Building and Fire Safety Expert Working Group: November 2023

Minutes from the Building and Fire Safety Expert Working Group on 28th November 2023


The chair welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Building and Fire Safety Expert Working Group (EWG) and covered the agenda for the meeting.

Meeting Business

The chair covered apologies received and invited members and officials to introduce themselves.

The chair outlined to members how the hybrid meeting would be managed.

The Chair asked members to declare any conflict of interest in writing within 7 days of this meeting. 

Action point (AP) 1: Officials to issue conflict of interest template form to group members to consider and respond within 7 days. Any questions members have can be directed to BSD.


Members were provided with the background to this Expert Working Group within the context of:

  • The Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group; and
  • The Cameron House Hotel Short Life Working Group (CHHSLWG)

Members were referred to the final report of the Cameron House Hotel Short Life Working Group.

Short Term Actions (CHHSLWG) 

Officials provided members with detail around the short-term actions of the CHHSLWG. Changes to the Section 34 Letter to local authority chief executives and changes to the Non-domestic Technical Handbook guidance in relation to the fire safety management and conversions of Traditional Buildings were highlighted. Some discussion took place on the risks arising from interpretation of the definition of ‘traditional building’ within the Technical Handbooks.

An update on the purpose and plan for a proposed workshop or workshops as recommended in the CHHSLWG Report were also provided.

Terms of Reference – Remit of Group

The Draft Terms of Reference were presented to the group and members were invited to provide any comments on the draft terms of reference within one week.

Members were asked to provide feedback on membership of the group identifying any groups or individuals who should be represented on the group. No additional group members were identified.

Action point (AP) 2: Officials to circulate a word document of the Terms of Reference so comments or tracked changes can be added.


Members were provided with a detailed programme of work over the coming two years. Current intent is that any new legislation and/or guidance would come into force at the end of 2025 / early 2026.

Traditional Buildings

Issues surrounding conversions of traditional buildings to residential buildings were highlighted to the group. Comments from the group were invited on the approach to the conversion of traditional buildings to residential buildings and in particular Recommendation 4 and 5 of the Cameron House Hotel Fatal Accident Inquiry Report.

Discussion took place on how Standards apply to conversions in one of two ways `shall meet` or ‘shall meet as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’. Issues around conversion types may not always be clear and difficult to interpret. For example, issues such as ‘significantly increase’ and ‘significantly alter characteristics of occupants’ (Type 6 Conversion) were discussed. Working with the LABSS Fire Engineering Hub and local authority verifier skill sets were also raised by members.

Issues in relation to hidden cavities and voids, workmanship, age and variations from current guidance were discussed.

Current plans to review Historic Environment Scotland guidance and practical fire safety guidance for existing relevant premises with a sleeping risk were also discussed. 

Action point (AP) 3: Members were asked to respond to the Questions within the papers.

Standard 2.15

The group was provided with an overview of Standard 2.15 including a summary of Applications for Relaxation or Dispensation of Standard 2.15 granted by Scottish Ministers. The research project ‘Cost Benefit Analysis to Inform Decision Making Process for Limitations to Standard 2.15 Automatic Fire Suppression Systems – Alterations, Extensions and Conversions’ was also highlighted.

Advice is being sought from the group on risk factors associated with short term proposals to either issue a Direction under S3(2)(b) of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003. Subject to legal advice a letter to Building Standards Managers is also being considered to enable local authority verifiers make local decisions on the application of Standard 2.15 to low risk alterations, extensions, and conversions.

Action point (AP) 4: Members were asked to respond to the Questions within the paper.


Members were provided with an overview of the research project `Cost benefit analysis – conversions of traditional buildings to residential buildings` and proposed methodology.

A separate paper was also presented to the group outlining proposals to consider extending the ban on combustible cladding to hotels, boarding houses and hostels. The approach taken in the UK Government and other devolved administrations was highlighted.

Action point (AP) 5: Members were asked to respond to the Questions with the papers.

Dates of next meetings

The chair indicated the dates of future meetings 2024/25 - Tuesday 12 March 2024 (changed to 19 March 2024), Tuesday 28 May 2024, Wednesday 2 April 2025. All meetings to start at 11:00.


No other items were raised. The Chair thanked everyone for their support and participation in the Expert Working Group and closed the meeting. 

Attendees and apologies


  • Peter Wilkinson, Pyrology Ltd


  • Steven Corrigan, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)
  • Craig Donnelly, Local Authority Building Standards Scotland (LABSS)
  • Lila Angelika, Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
  • Angus Law, Edinburgh University
  • Stewart Kidd, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA)
  • Fionnuala McKinney, Building Regulations, Northern Ireland Government
  • Samantha Maccuish, Federation of Master Builders
  • Andrew Nicolson, The Fire Surgery
  • Sean Cairns, Thistle Trade Group
  • Sharon McLure, Association for Passive Fire Protection
  • Charles-Elie Romeyer, Building Safety Regulator HSE
  • Paul Keepins, Building regulations, Welsh Government
  • Neil McDougall, NLM Consultancy
  • Peter Drummond, Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
  • Jim McGonigal, Scotland Branch of Institution of Fire Engineers (SIFE)


Scottish Government Officials

  • Stephen Garvin, Deputy Director, Building Standards Division
  • Lisel Porch, Safer Communities Division
  • Chris Booth, Safer Communities Division
  • James Clark, Safer Communities Division
  • Steven Scott, Building Standards Division
  • Colin Hird, Building Standards Division
  • Benny Rooney, Building Standards Division



  • Steven Bosworth, SFRS
  • Chris Getty, SFRS
  • Damien Fairley, Northern Ireland Government
  • Andrew Watters, Scottish Government Fire and Rescue Unit
  • Colin Todd, CS Todd and Associates
  • Simon Montgomery, HES 
Back to top