Building and Fire Safety Expert Working Group: terms of reference

Terms of reference for the Building and Fire Safety Working Group.


On Monday 18 December 2017 the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) were called to a building fire at Cameron House Hotel.  Two people, Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson, lost their lives in the fire due to exposure to smoke and fire gases.  Following a multi-agency investigation and prosecutions (for both Cameron House hotel operators and the night Porter Christoper O’Malley) an independent Crown Office review concluded that a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) should be held into the deaths of Mr Dyson and Mr Midgley.  The FAI determination reported on 11 January 2023.

The Fire Safety Expert Panel (The Panel) has been created to look at the long term commitments outlined within the report to consider:

  • recommendation four - “The Scottish Government should consider introducing for future conversions of historic buildings to be used as hotel accommodation a requirement to have active fire suppression systems installed.”
  • recommendation five – “The Scottish Government should constitute an expert working group to more fully explore the special risks which existing hotels and similar premises may pose through the presence of hidden cavities or voids, varying standards of workmanships, age, and the variance from current standards and to consider revising the guidance provided by the Scottish Government and others.”

The Panel will also consider further matters of fire safety including the following:

  • the application of mandatory Building Standard 2.15 Automatic Fire Suppression Systems to alterations, extensions and conversions of buildings within scope of the standard
  • Historic Environment Scotland publications in relation to the management of fire safety in traditional buildings (traditional building is a defined term within the Building Standards technical handbooks meaning – a building or part of a building of a type constructed before or around 1919 by using construction techniques that were commonly in use before 1919 and with permeable components, in a way that promotes the dissipation of moisture from the building fabric), conversions and practitioner guidance
  • current Scottish Government guidance including but not limited to: Fire Safety in Existing premises with sleeping accommodation


The objectives of the expert panel are to review relevant aspects of the Scottish Building Standards and fire safety risk assessments, including the following:

  • mandating of automatic fire suppression systems through the building regulations when traditional buildings are converted into residential buildings (including hotels)
  • the role of voids and cavities in fire spread in traditional buildings used as hotels, associated guidance for existing buildings and related building regulations and guidance where traditional buildings are being converted to residential buildings (a residential building means a building, other than a domestic building, having sleeping accommodation)
  • the use of lath and plaster wall coverings, the presence of any fire-resistant material, and low-level emergency lighting in hotels (recommended by Sheriff McCartney as part of the Fatal Accident Inquiry Determination)
  • use of automatic fire suppression systems in alterations, extensions and conversions of buildings within scope of the standard
  • mandating of non-combustible external wall cladding systems on hotels, boarding houses and hostels over 11 m in height

The objectives will be reviewed during the course of the work and may be altered or amended subject to agreement of the Expert Group and Ministers.


The Panel provides an opportunity for relevant experts to consider the issues set out above in full.  The Panel will meet to consider the issues related to this work and to assist Scottish Government officials prepare for a public consultation exercise in Autumn 2024 and to develop any changes to regulations, standards and guidance.   

The Panel has been set up under the oversight of Scottish Ministers and will report to Ministers through the Building and Fire Safety Ministerial Working Group and through copies of meeting notes and additional briefing as required.

The Group meetings will be chaired by Peter Wilkinson as an independent consultant.

Scottish Government officials will administer the Group, set up meetings, prepare the agenda, coordinate meeting papers and prepare meeting notes.  Members may provide meeting papers or be asked to contribute to meeting papers and research. Members can also comment on meeting notes in advance of finalisation.

Meeting papers may be subject to Freedom of Information requests and therefore proactive publication of meeting notes will be undertaken.

Membership of the Panel may be expanded subject to agreement of the current Group members and Scottish Ministers to ensure the panel is able to engage in the nature and detail of discussion required to deliver on its objectives.


The responsibilities of the expert panel are as follows:

  • to provide technical advice and recommendations based on their expert knowledge on the issues set out above directly to policymakers
  • to act in an unbiased manner in providing advice and recommendations
  • to review scientific evidence in support of any regulatory change and associated guidance
  • to report any conflicts of interest to the Panel secretariat
  • to engage in a positive manner with other members of the panel and fairly recognising the contributions of fellow panel members


The expert group shall be chaired by Peter Wilkinson.  Meetings are expected to take place in line with the 2023-25 programme (See Paper 7).  The programme will be updated regularly to provide more detail and monitor task completion. 

Meetings will normally be hosted in a hybrid manner by the Scottish Government.  Members may attend a Scottish Government office for the meeting or join virtually.


The Group shall consist of individuals as set out in the list below.  Whilst it is recognised that each member may be employed in a specific role or company they are appointed on the basis of their expertise and knowledge.

  • Pyrology Ltd
  • Scotland Branch of Institution of Fire Engineers (SIFE)
  • Edinburgh University
  • CS Todd & Associates
  • The Fire Surgery
  • Federation of Master Builders
  • British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association
  • Association of Specialist Fire Protection
  • Local Authority Building Standards Scotland
  • Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland
  • NLM Building Consultancy (on behalf of UK Hospitality Scotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance
  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • The Scottish Government
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Health and Safety Executive (Observer)
  • Northern Ireland Government (Observer)
  • Welsh Government (Observer)



Building and Fire Safety Expert Working group

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