High rise buildings - firefighting arrangements: report

HM Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) report assessing the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's (SFRS's) arrangements and readiness to fight fires in high rise buildings in Scotland. It contains areas of good practice and recommendations where there is scope to improve performance.

List of Recommendations

1. The provision of fire safety measures in domestic high rise buildings is of course the responsibility of building owners and others in control of buildings. However retrofitted fire systems may result in implications for the SFRS.

We recommend that the SFRS firms up its policies and internal guidance on fire safety standards in high rise domestic buildings with a view to influencing a standard risk-based approach in the provision of:

a. fire warning systems, and

b. SFRS controlled evacuation systems.

This should take into account the suitability of these systems and potential problems and interactions.

2. We think that it would improve safety if the external indicator plate used on domestic high rise buildings was adopted as a standard in Scotland and a mandatory requirement to install and maintain these plates was imposed on building owners.

We recommend that, if the SFRS shares our view, then the SFRS should work with Scottish Ministers to influence such a change to introduce a statutory duty (perhaps achievable by amending the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006).

(This recommendation is made, albeit it is somewhat indirect, to the SFRS given that the statutory power of the HMFSI facilitates the making of recommendations only to the SFRS).

3. The SFRS should review its expectation regarding the recording and use of OI for high rise buildings and take steps to implement a standard approach.

4. The SFRS should develop its own policy on the suitability of 'Premises Information Boxes' for high rise domestic blocks so that a standard approach can be taken where housing providers may propose to introduce these boxes for their buildings.

5. The SFRS should reconsider the introduction of a risk-based OAV inspection frequency, in line with what exists for fire safety audits and OI inspections generally, where appropriate.

6. We are mindful that a general document conversion programme is in progress and that rewrite of the high rise SOP by the Service is well advanced.

The SOP rewrite should consider the issues we mention in this report to improve its usability for the end users.

7. The SFRS should reflect on the strong views among its firefighting staff and consider whether there is scope to refine the set down procedures for tackling fires contained in the SFRS high rise SOP, taking into account the different levels of risk offered by features such as modern lift protection, smoke hood availability, automatic suppression systems, and information from cameras and attending staff.

8. The SFRS should review its arrangements for transporting equipment for high rise firefighting with a view to introducing an arrangement which is physically less demanding than the existing arrangements.


Email: HMFSI@gov.scot

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