FIRE CHIEFS SPEAK OUT AF­TER GRENFELL TRAGEDY New in­spec­tions needed to en­sure high-rise safety

Evening Times - - NEWS - By STEW­ART PATER­SON

Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent A PRO­GRAMME of “in­tru­sive in­spec­tions” is needed to en­sure the safety of high rise build­ings in Scot­land, ac­cord­ing to the Fire Bri­gades Union.

The FBU Scot­land told MSPs that while the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at cladding in the wake of the Grenfell dis­as­ter the union would like this widened to in­clude full in­spec­tions.

Denise Christie, re­gional trea­surer of the FBU Scot­land, said it would al­low other fire safety is­sues to be high­lighted and dealt with.

The Evening Times re­ported ear­lier this week how the FBU called for a re­ver­sal of cuts to Fire Safety In­spec­tion of­fi­cers which have been re­duced by 24% since the sin­gle Scot­tish force was es­tab­lished.

Ms Christie said the in­tru­sive in­spec­tions would be a “one off in­spec­tion.

“It’s go­ing to be costly and take time but that’s when we can have a clearer pic­ture of is­sues then we can look at rec­om­men­da­tions.”

Ms Christie also said that the in­stal­la­tion of sprin­klers would be a wel­come step and said the union has called for their use in hous­ing stock to save lives.

She said: “Af­ter years of fall­ing deaths there has been a slight in­crease in fire deaths in Scot­land in the last year.

“You are more likely to die in a house fire in Scot­land than any­where else in the UK.

“We have no re­ports of any deaths in prop­er­ties with sprin­klers fit­ted.” She said it would cost be­tween £1000 and £2000 to in­stall a sys­tem.

Kenny McKen­zie of the Royal In­sti­tute of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors in Scot­land agreed sprin­klers would be a good step but noted that some de­vel­op­ers will ac­tively find ways of avoid­ing the cost.

He said cur­rently, new build­ings above 18 me­tres re­quire sprin­klers to be fit­ted.

He added: “Some de­vel­op­ers build just un­der 18 me­ters so that they do not have to go to that ex­pense.”

David Stew­art of the Scot­tish Fed­er­a­tion of Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tions said any new stan­dards would need to be ap­plied across all hous­ing tenures in both pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor es­pe­cially re­gard­ing high rises.

He warned that safety could be com­pro­mised by pri­vate own­ers and land­lords re­mov­ing safe­guards like fire doors in prop­er­ties that were in­stalled by pre­vi­ous so­cial sec­tor own­ers.

Bob Doris, Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and Com­mu­ni­ties Com­mit­tee con­venor, said: “Our Com­mit­tee heard both re­as­sur­ances and chal­lenges from the Fire Bri­gades Union (FBU), Scot­tish Fed­er­a­tion Of Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tions and the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors on the cur­rent state of fire safety in Scot­land.

“Clearly, we have strong fire safety stan­dards in Scot­land but ar­eas for po­ten­tial im­prove­ment are start­ing to emerge. For ex­am­ple, to­day the FBU called for an ‘in­tru­sive in­spec­tion’ of high rises in Scot­land to en­sure fire safety mea­sures on the ground are up to scratch.

“Above all else, we must en­sure those who live, work or study in high-rise build­ings across Scot­land are safe.”

Grenfell Tower in Lon­don, where at least 80 peo­ple died in a hor­rific blaze ear­lier this year

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