Building and fire safety working group minutes: June 2018

Minutes of the meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety, which took place on 13 June 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Chair)
  • Minister for Local Government and Housing
  • Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs
  • Stephen Gallagher, Interim Director for Local Government & Communities
  • Stephen Garvin, Head of Building Standards
  • David Signorini, Head of Better Homes
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division
  • Simon Routh-Jones, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • David McGown, SFRS Assistant Chief Officer
  • Stuart Stevens, SFRS Area Manager
  • Tom Steele, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Chris Booth, Safer Communities Division
  • Alan Morrison, Health Finance
  • Lesley Brown, Communications
  • Jeanette Campbell, Special Advisor
  • Stephen Pathirana, Deputy Director
  • Jessica McPherson, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • Shona Harper, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • William Hamilton, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • Professor John Cole CBE, Chair of Review Panel for Compliance and Enforcement in Building Standards
  • Dr Paul Stollard, Chair of Review Panel for Fire Safety in Building Standards


  • Lesley Fraser, Director Housing & Social Justice
  • Christine McLaughlin, Director Health Finance

Items and actions

1. Welcome and action points from previous meeting

It was noted that the minutes of the previous meeting held on Thursday 22 March were agreed and published.

Update on previously agreed action points:

  1. SG officials to continue to monitor returns until complete, including follow up with Property Management Association Scotland. COMPLETED discussed further at item 5.
  2. SG officials will seek further updates from Glasgow City Council on the buildings previously notified (as having ACM cladding). COMPLETED discussed further at item 5.
  3. SG officials to develop inventory options for consideration by the Ministerial Working Group (MWG). COMPLETED discussed further at item 2.

Professor John Cole, chair of the Review of Enforcement and Compliance in Building Standards and Dr Paul Stollard chair of the Review of Fire Safety in Building Standards were welcomed to the meeting to present the recommendations of their respective Review Panels (items 3 and 4).

2. Inventory of High-rise Domestic Buildings

Officials updated the MWG on progress on the externally-commissioned inventory of high-rise domestic buildings. It is expected that the data collection for the inventory will be complete by the end of June.

Officials also presented initial high level options for the on-going maintenance and use of the inventory. Over the summer SG officials will engage with stakeholder organisations seeking views that can inform the final options appraisal for the future of the inventory.

AP1 – SG officials to prepare a full options paper for Ministerial consideration/discussion at the next scheduled MWG meeting in September.

3. Review of Enforcement and Compliance in Building Standards

Professor John Cole, presented the outline recommendations of the Review Panel to the MWG. He set out that the Review Panel had wide representation from across the construction industry and strong, unanimous conclusions emerged. Professor Cole highlighted that the pre-emptive nature of the Building Standards system was a strength to be protected, however, there are a number of measures which would, if implemented successfully, further strengthen the system. Recommendations of the Review Panel include: establishing a central hub for complex, high-rise buildings and buildings of high public value; improving verification and inspection with a greater focus on safety-critical features; more clearly defining roles and responsibilities for those involved in the design and construction process ensuring that individuals are suitably qualified to carry out their role; introducing a new, documented compliance plan approach for high-risk buildings; and expanding the completion certificate to include safety-critical features.

Professor Cole noted that the recommendations of the Review Panel would be finalised in the coming weeks and thereafter will form the basis of a public consultation exercise which is expected to commence in early July.

4. Review of Fire Safety in Building Standards

Dr Paul Stollard, presented the outline recommendations to the Fire Safety Review Panel to the MWG. The Review Panel had widespread professional representation across industry and proposals put forward were peer-reviewed by an international review sub-group, which brought international context and best practice.

Dr Stollard highlighted that the overall conclusion of the Review Panel was that the current structure of mandatory functional standards supported with performance based or prescriptive guidance in the Technical Handbooks works and should be retained. However, he highlighted a number of recommendations of the Review Panel, which will, if implemented, see Scotland’s new buildings become even safer in the future. He outline the recommendations of the review panel which include: simplifying the fire test standard to the European harmonised reaction to fire tests listed in the technical handbooks; reducing the trigger height for non-combustible cladding requirements from 18 metres to 11 metres; expanding the types of buildings in which sprinklers are to be fitted to include homes in multiple occupation (HMOs) used for care purposes 24/7 and HMOs with 10 or more residents; to make new-build residential buildings over 18 metres even safer by requiring two escape stairs; and to create a centralised hub for the verification of fire safety for complex buildings.

Dr Stollard noted that the recommendations of the Review Panel would be finalised in the coming weeks and thereafter will form the basis of a public consultation exercise which is expected to commence in early July.

Ministers thanked Dr Stollard and Professor Cole and the other panel members for their work in developing the recommendations. Ministers offered their full support to the recommendations of both review panels and agreed the next step of seeking wider views from industry and the public through the public consultation.

5. Co-ordination team update

Fire Safety Regime review

Work is on track and on-going. Following four meetings of the advisory group the mapping exercise had now completed and no gaps were identified across the various pieces of legislation. The next step will be a full analysis of how the intent of the legislation is applied in practice. Additionally, a short life working group which includes SG, FBU and SFRS is working together to produce standard guidance for a National Fire Risk Assessment for Domestic High-rise premises.

AP2 – SG officials to provide an interim update of the Fire Regime Review at the next MWG meeting in September.

Aluminium Composite Material (ACM)

Officials highlighted the recent announcement by Taylor Wimpey that they would meet the full cost of replacing ACM cladding on the buildings it developed at Glasgow Harbour.

NHS update

Work on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital is on schedule to commence next month to replace ACM external cladding on identified areas of the hospital.

External Wall Insulation (EWI)

Officials advised that 100% of local authorities and almost 90% of housing associations had provided a response to Scottish Government requests. Responses from property factors remained poor. From the information received to date, there is no evidence of a systemic issue regarding EWI.

AP3 – SG officials to continue to pursue further information returns

Fire doors

SG officials provided an update on fire doors testing being carried out by UK Government. A revised testing programme has been agreed with the UK’s expert panel with the focus on new 30 minute fire doors, from a range of manufacturers. An SG official will meet with Sir Ken Knight, the Chair of the expert panel, to be advised on progress and will provide any update to the MWG. SG officials also advised that weekly calls with their counterparts in UK Government continue to take place. It was noted that Scottish building standards require 60 minute doors in high rise residential buildings.

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)

David McGown advised that SFRS are ready to commence a white goods safety campaign and also to promote awareness around the new standards for smoke and fire alarms. Additionally the group were updated on the ‘Stay put’ guidance following recent media attention. David McGowan confirmed the view of SFRS and NFCC that stay put remains safe, however, there was acknowledgment that awareness and promotion is required to help occupants’ understand what the policy means for them. SFRS are actively working with stakeholders to raise awareness and understanding.

6. AOB and date of future meetings

The MWG agreed the next meeting would be scheduled for the 27 September 2018 with a further meeting scheduled for November.



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