Multi‑storey residential buildings - fire risk posed by external wall systems: consultation analysis

An independent analysis of consultation responses to the Draft Scottish Advice Note (SAN): Determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems in existing multi-storey residential buildings.

This document is part of a collection

2. Consultation Methodology


2.1 A targeted approach to the consultation was adopted given the Draft SAN's technical nature, and involved three main strands:

  • Webinars;
  • Consultation Document and Questions; and
  • Meetings with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) (Scotland), and representatives from the Ministerial Working Group for Mortgage Lending.

2.2 The consultation process was managed by the Scottish Government Building Standards division in partnership with internal colleagues within the Fire and Rescue Unit and Housing.

2.3 There was input and oversight from the Technical Working Group that brings together technical professionals and fire experts from building surveying, research, fire consultancy, academia, Fire Inspectorate, SFRS, Local Authority Building Standards, NHS and Scottish and UK Government officials, Table 2.

Table 2: Technical Working Group Members
Name Organisation
Dr Stephen Garvin Scottish Government, Building Standards (Chair)
Debbie Smith BRE Group
Steven Daws CS Todd & Associates
Colin Todd CS Todd and Associates
Simon Routh-Jones HM Chief Inspector of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
Jim McGonigal Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE)
Alan McAulay Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
Bill Connelly NHS
Craig Ross Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Chris Getty Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)
Karen Coyne Scottish Government, Better Homes
Colin Hird Scottish Government, Building Standards
Shona Harper Scottish Government, Building Standards
Benny Rooney Scottish Government, Building Standards
Gavin Gray Scottish Government, Fire and Rescue Unit
Luke Bisby University of Edinburgh


2.4 To support feedback on the Draft SAN, three webinars were arranged and promoted with, and through, the key audience for the advice note. This included building owners/managers to assist in determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems, fire risk assessors and specialist wall appraisal experts.

2.5 Annex B provides details of the 41 organisations that received initial email communication from the Scottish Government regarding the webinars scheduled for September and October 2020. A summary breakdown by organisation sub-group is provided in Table 3.

2.6 It was hoped that the mix of organisations and groups emailed would then promote both the webinars and the Consultation Document on the Draft SAN through their wider membership, associations and/or networks and connections to achieve as wide a reach as possible.

Table 3: Webinar Initial Distribution List
Organisation Sub-Group Number
Housing and Property Management 13
Further and Higher Education 6
Fire Safety / Engineering / Consultants 5
Other 4
Health and Social Care 3
Local Government 3
Residents and Tenants Groups 3
Finance and Insurance 2
Architects, Designers, Engineers, Planners, Surveyors, Environmental Consultants 1
Miscellaneous Construction 1

N=41 contacts.

EKOS coding of organisations based on details provided by the Building Standards Division.

Coding discussed and agreed with the client.

2.7 The three webinars were facilitated by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), and consisted of:

  • Presentations by representatives from the Scottish Government Building Standards Division and the Fire and Rescue Unit to set the scene and to go through the detail of the Draft SAN;
  • Interactive Polls;
  • Question and Answer sessions; and
  • Sign-posting to the Consultation Document to encourage written responses to the consultation.

2.8 A link to the final webinar video is also provided in Annex A.

2.9 Over 400 individuals registered for the webinars, and included a broad mix of sectors (i.e. public, private, third) and thematic areas of interest/specialism, Table 4. In many cases registrations included multiple contacts from within the same organisation.

2.10 Over half of all registrations for webinars have been categorised as:

  • Local Government (i.e. all are public sector local authorities);
  • Fire Safety/Engineering/Consultants (e.g. a mix of public and private sector organisations such as SFRS, fire protection companies, fire risk assessors, fire safety engineers); and
  • Housing and Property Management (e.g. primarily private and third sector organisations such as housing associations, Registered Social Landlords, factors, and property services/managers).
Table 4: Individuals Registering for Webinars
Organisation Sub-Group Number %
Local Government 87 23%
Fire Safety / Engineering / Consultants 68 18%
Housing and Property Management 48 13%
Architects, Designers, Engineers, Planners, Surveyors, Environmental Consultants 40 11%
Further and Higher Education 37 10%
Miscellaneous Construction 37 10%
Health and Social Care 29 8%
National Government 14 4%
Residents and Tenants Groups 9 2%
Finance and Insurance 7 2%
Other 4 1%

N=380. There were a further 27 responses which could not be coded based on information provided. EKOS coding of individuals based on details provided when the individual registered.

Coding discussed and agreed with the client.

2.11 A total of 149 unique organisations registered for the webinars[1], Table 5.

Table 5: Webinar Registration - List of Unique Organisations
Organisation Sub-Group Number %
Fire Safety / Engineering / Consultants 31 21%
Housing and Property Management 25 17%
Miscellaneous Construction 22 15%
Architects, Designers, Engineers, Planners, Surveyors, Environmental Consultants 17 11%
Local Government 16 11%
Further and Higher Education 13 9%
Health and Social Care 11 7%
Residents and Tenants Groups 5 3%
Finance and Insurance 5 3%
Other 3 2%
National Government 1 1%

N=149. EKOS coding of individuals based on details provided when the individual registered.

Coding discussed and agreed with the client.

2.12 The CSIC has informed that 276 individuals attended the three webinars, which is a healthy number.

2.13 Table 6 to Table 8 provide details of the three webinar poll questions and responses (note: not all attendees answered the poll questions). Key points to note include that:

  • Prior to the webinar, almost half had either read the Draft SAN in full or had read some of it;
  • Almost all agreed that there was a need for a SAN (94%); and
  • Almost 40% reported that most or about half of buildings might require a full intrusive appraisal. The same proportion noted that few buildings would require this level of appraisal.
Table 6: Poll Question 1 and Responses
Have you read the Draft SAN?
  Webinar 1 Webinar 2 Webinar 3  
  70 responses 79 response 45 responses Average
Yes 10% 28% 33% 24%
No 66% 47% 47% 53%
Some of it 24% 25% 20% 23%
Table 7: Poll Question 2 and Responses
All risk assessments should include a consideration of external wall systems, but how many buildings do you think might require a full intrusive appraisal?
Webinar 1 Webinar 2 Webinar 3  
68 responses 71 responses 38 responses Average
Most 22% 32% 13% 23%
About half 23% 10% 13% 15%
Few 35% 32% 47% 38%
Don't know 22% 23% 26% 24%
Table 8: Poll Question 3 and Responses
Do you agree there is a need for a SAN?
Webinar 1 Webinar 2 Webinar 3  
64 responses 73 responses 42 responses Average
Yes 91% 97% 95% 94%
No 2% 1% 0% 1%
Don't know 8% 1% 5% 5%

2.14 A list of the questions asked by webinar participants are contained in Appendix C. The team that facilitated the sessions either answered questions on the day and/or committed to providing a response in due course.

Consultation Document and Responses

2.15 The Scottish Government's consultation portal - Citizen Space – was not used for attracting online responses to the consultation on the Draft SAN due to the technical nature of the subject matter.

2.16 Instead the consultation document was referred to, and promoted, via:

  • The initial invite distributed to individuals and organisations to take part in the webinar sessions;
  • CSIC promoted webinars though its database of individuals who signed up for regular updates and social media
  • The three webinar sessions that took place during September and October 2020; and
  • An email reminder sent to webinar registrations prior to the consultation closing date of 25th October 2020.

2.17 All consultation responses were submitted via email to the Building Standards division. Following the consultation closing date, each response was sent by email to EKOS to log and manually input into Microsoft Excel for review and analysis.

2.18 A total of 27 consultation responses were received, with the majority submitted by organisations (19, 70%), Table 9. Across the range of organisations that submitted a response, almost half were Fire Safety/Engineering/Consultants or Misc Construction.

Table 9: Profile of Consultation Respondents
  Number %
Individual 8 30%
Organisation 19 70%
Fire Safety / Engineering / Consultants 5 26%
Misc Construction 4 21%
Finance and Insurance 3 16%
Housing and Property Management 2 11%
Local Government 2 11%
Residents and Tenants Groups 2 11%
Further and Higher Education 1 5%


2.19 The absolute numbers of responses by organisation sub-group is small, albeit it should be noted that in many cases they represent much larger organisations.

2.20 Equal weighting has been given to responses. This includes the views of, on the one hand, large organisations with a national remit or membership, and, on the other, smaller organisations with a more local or narrow thematic focus (or an individual's view).

2.21 The analysis seeks to identify the most common themes and issues. It does not therefore report on every single point raised in the consultation responses.

Consultation Limitations

2.22 Respondents to any consultation are self-selecting. However, given the technical nature of this particular consultation, it did attract detailed and thoughtful responses from its intended audience.

2.23 The extent of input from residents and tenants groups has been somewhat limited. This might reflect a combination of factors such as limited promotion due to the nature of the targeted consultation and the technical nature of the consultation document.



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