Building and fire safety working group minutes: March 2018

Minutes of the meeting of the ministerial working group on building and fire safety that took place on 22 March 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 Garvin, Building Standards

  • David Signorini, Head of Better Homes
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division
  • Linda White, Safer Communities Division
  • Martyn Emberson, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Stuart Stevens, SFRS Area Manager
  • Tom Steele, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Stephen Pathirana, Deputy Director, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • Jessica McPherson, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • Shona Harper, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
  • William Hamilton, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team


  • David McGown, SFRS Assistant Chief Officer
  • Lesley Fraser, Director Housing & Social Justice
  • Stephen Gallagher, Interim Director for Local Government & Communities
  • Christine McLaughlin, Director Health Finance
  • Stephen Garland, Head of Housing Sustainability Unit
  • Alan Morrison, Health Finance
  • Lesley Brown, Communications
  • Jeanette Campbell, Special Adviser

Items and actions

1. Welcome and action points from previous meeting

It was noted that the minutes of the previous meeting held on Wednesday 31 January were agreed and published.

Update on previously agreed action points:

1: SG officials to liaise with relevant LAs to ensure steps are being taken to commission fire engineer’s reports and establish whether further action is necessary. COMPLETED continue dialogue with LAs.
2: SG officials to identify if there are any patterns emerging which highlight specific installation programmes or contractors where problems have occurred in order that further investigations can be targeted. COMPLETED discussed further at item 2.
3: SG officials and SFRS to develop a safety campaign around safe use of white goods and consider appropriate timings for launch. COMPLETED discussed further at item 3.

2. Update on further information requests

External Wall Insulation (EWI)

The Ministerial Working Group (MWG) was updated on the information returned by Local Authorities (LAs) and Housing Associations (HAs) regarding EWI. To date 29 of 32 LAs and 111 of 163 HAs have provided returns. From returns received, there is no evidence of any systemic issues, nor of any patterns relating to specific installation programmes or contractors. Most faults reported are minor and non-structural. Where faults have been reported assurances have been given that action is taking place to rectify or investigate further.

Returns from property factors were low, it was noted that this should be followed up by relevant officials with emphasised importance.

Action point 1 - SG officials to continue to monitor returns until complete, including follow up with Property Management Association Scotland.

Aluminium Composite Material (ACM)

Following further information requests, no further cases of ACM on high-rise private or social domestic buildings have been reported.

Aberdeen City Council has completed investigations on the six buildings suspected of having ACM and in conjunction with SFRS no further action is required. Glasgow City Council (GCC) continue to work with owners of the identified non domestic buildings with ACM to establish any further actions required as a result of fire engineers’ reports.

Action point 2 - SG officials will seek further updates from GCC on the buildings previously notified.

Glasgow Harbour

Work to survey the building is ongoing, once complete GCC and owners will have clear information on which to base decisions.

NHS update

NHS GG&C are in the process of obtaining a building warrant and the replacement cladding system for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Work expected to start in the Summer and complete in 2019.

At Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, as previously reported, the cladding system does not pose a significant fire risk and will not need replaced. Interim protection measures to the external perimeter are currently in place and NHS Lothian are reviewing options for long term solutions.

3. Building and Fire Safety Co-ordination Team update

Progress on programme of work

SG officials provided the MWG with an overview of the three reviews taking place, all progressing well and to timescale. The Chairs of the two building standards reviews are anticipated to be in a position to present recommendations at the next MWG scheduled for June.

The Fire Safety Regime Review is underway and work to map fire safety legislation and practices is progressing as planned. This will also include mapping the current promotion of white goods safety and identifying any further opportunities to promote awareness of safe use of white goods.

The High Rise Building Inventory has now completed its initial pilot phase in South Ayrshire. It is expected the inventory will be complete by end May. The next steps will focus on the options for maintaining the inventory going forward and utilising the information it holds.

Action point 3 - SG officials to develop inventory options for consideration by the MWG.

Dame Judith Hackitt review - Scotland event

SG officials provided the MWG with an overview of the two workshops held in Edinburgh on the 9 March with Dame Judith Hackitt. Both sessions were positive and provided Dame Judith with an overview of the Scottish system, its key differences from the system in England and the role of Local Authorities as verifiers. These sessions involved tenants and residents, social landlords, the Housing Regulator, and a range of industry bodies and professionals.

Fire doors

Mr Stewart advised that Dominic Raab MP, Minister of State for Housing had called him immediately before the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, made a statement to the UK Parliament on the 15 March 2018 regarding the testing of the fire door from Grenfell Tower as part of the on-going investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

Following the statement, Mr Stewart sent a letter to the Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee providing an update. A separate letter was sent to all Scottish local authorities and housing associations sharing the information received from the UK Government asking them to check records of any doors purchased from the manufacturer. Further requests have been made to the UK Government and to the manufacturer to provide the Scottish Government with details of any Scottish organisations which may have purchased the fire doors in question. It was noted that there is no evidence to suggest any systemic issue with the doors, however, the UK Government is developing a testing programme and the MWG will be advised as this progresses.

4. Smoke alarm consultation – next steps

The MWG was updated that 120 responses had been received during the recent SG consultation on smoke alarms. There was overall support from respondents to harmonise to the private rented standard for smoke alarms across all tenures. The MWG was advised that there would be a two year lead in period for compliance. An awareness campaign will be developed in the run up to the legislation being introduced.

5. Discussion on direction of travel

The MWG discussed the overall programme of work and progress being made. It was agreed that the next meeting in June will be a milestone meeting where key work streams will be due to report on their recommendations

Action point 4 - SG officials to continue to co-ordinate programme of work ensuring timescales are adhered to.

6. AOB and date of future meetings

The MWG agreed the next meeting would be scheduled for the 13 June 2018 with further meetings scheduled for September and November



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