Building and fire safety working group minutes: November 2017

Minutes of the meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety that took place on 14 November 2017.

Attendees and apologies


  • Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Chair)
  • Minister for Local Government and Housing
  • Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs
  • Lesley Fraser, Director Housing & Social Justice
  • Stephen Gallagher, Interim Director for Local Government & Communities
  • David Signorini, Head of Better Homes
  • Alan Morrison, Health Finance
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division
  • David McGown, SFRS Assistant Chief Officer
  • Martyn Emberson, HM Fire Service Inspectorate
  • Linda White, Safer Communities Division
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Jonathan Astwood, Building Standards
  • Jeanette Campbell, Special Adviser
  • Lesley Brown, Communications
  • 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


  • Christine McLaughlin, Director Health Finance
  • Gillian Russell, Director Safer Communities
  • Bill Dodds, Head of Building Standards
  • Stuart Stevens, SFRS Area Manager

Items and actions

1. Welcome and action points from previous meeting

It was noted that the minutes of the previous meeting held on Thursday 5 October were agreed and published.

Update on previously agreed action points:

  • 1: Glasgow City Council to provide regular progress reports to MWG. COMPLETED. Discussed further at item 2.
  • 2: Scottish Ministers to write to the UK Government re: EWI. COMPLETED. Discussed further at item 5.

2. Update – Private high-rise domestic buildings in Glasgow

Privately owned high-rise domestic buildings

Scottish Government (SG) officials updated the MWG on the two Glasgow Harbour domestic private high-rise buildings clad in Aluminium Composite material (ACM).

Glasgow City Council (GCC) stated that they were in receipt of the fire risk assessment report commissioned by Hacking & Paterson on behalf of the building owners’ association. The report proposes further interim safety measures for the buildings which need to be agreed between the owners, GCC and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS). GCC stated that they were seeking clarity on some aspects of the report, following which they hope to reach agreement on the next steps.

GCC advised that they continue to work with the owners, managing agents and SFRS as they explore options and seek to reach agreement on a long term solution for the buildings.

SG officials also updated the MWG on latest information shared from the UK Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Action point 1 – SG officials to continue dialogue with DCLG to establish details and determine next steps.

3. Situation report – Checks on high-rise buildings where people might sleep

The MWG discussed the categories of buildings for which checks have been completed: social and private high-rise domestic buildings, student accommodation, hospitals and schools over 18 metres and care homes over 18 metres. Information returned to date has been clear, however, the Group agreed that there would be merit in seeking additional reassurance from local authorities with regard to pre-2005 high-rise domestic buildings and high-rise residential buildings where people sleep.

It was noted that, in due course, the building inventory work will provide comprehensive detail of all high-rise domestic buildings. However, Ministers stated that this reassurance was required more swiftly and should also include all high-rise residential buildings where people sleep. Recognising the potential burden on local authorities, it was agreed that where assistance was needed to complete this task it would be made available.

Action point 2 – Scottish Government to write to local authorities with regard to pre-2005 high-rise domestic buildings and high-rise non-domestic buildings where people sleep.

4. Update on work programme

SG officials provided the MWG with a progress update on key elements of the work programme including:

The domestic high rise fire safety campaign: It was noted that the campaign launched on 18 October. SFRS have developed resources including a video, factoids and a campaign poster and leaflet. The Tenant and Resident Panel have agreed to be involved in the evaluation of the campaign which is on-going. Review of Fire Safety Regime and Regulatory Framework for High Rise Domestic Buildings: It was noted that this was an SG led review which is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 28th November.

Practical fire safety guidance for existing non-residential premises with sleeping accommodation:

It was noted that draft consolidated guidance is finalised and consultation on it commenced on 7 November 2017.

Smoke and fire alarm consultation:

It was noted that the consultation is on-going and is being supported with a range of events engaging with residents and tenants as well as professional associations with an interest.

Building standards review – fire safety:

The first meeting of the review panel took place on 27 October. Ministers noted and welcomed the high calibre of experts from academia and industry who were supporting the work of the group. The MWG were informed of the international interest in this work and the range of responses from across the world to the review group’s questionnaire.

Tenant and resident panel on building and fire safety:

A panel is now established and will hold its first meeting on 29 November where members will have the opportunity to share their views on the MWG’s work programme including: fire regime and regulatory framework, the fire safety campaign and the smoke alarm consultation.

Building standards review - enforcement and compliance:

It was noted that the scope of the review has been agreed with the Chair, Professor John Cole. The first meeting is scheduled to take place on 27 November.

Local government and communities committee report:

The MWG noted the main themes of the LGCC report published on 30 October and the complementary themes of the MWG’s work programme.

5. External wall insulation and BBA

Following a peer review of the British Board of Agrément’s research by the UK Expert Panel and the Standing Committee on Structural Safety, UK Government and devolved administrations developed agreed advice and guidance for building owners. The SG wrote to local authorities, housing associations, factors and council building standards teams on 9 November with this advice and guidance asking that actions are followed in order to establish if there are any defects associated with existing external wall insulations. The letter asks that any defects be reported back to SG by 31 January 2018.

6. AOB and date of future meetings

The MWG agreed the next meeting, should be scheduled for the end of January 2018. A date will be confirmed and circulated to the group.



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