Building and fire safety working group minutes: September 2017

Minutes of the meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety, which took place on 8 September 2017.

Attendees and apologies


  • Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities (Chair)
  • Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport
  • Minister for Local Government and Housing
  • Kenneth Hogg, Director Local Government & Communities
  • Christine McLaughlin, Director Health Finance
  • Stephen Pathirana, Deputy Director Building Standards and Fire Co-ordination
  • Jess McPherson, Head of Building Standards and Fire Co-ordination
  • Bill Dodds, Head of Building Standards
  • Jonathan Astwood, Building Standards
  • Tom Hardy, Unit Head, Fire Safety Unit
  • Linda White, Fire Safety Unit, Safer Communities Division
  • George Fraser, HM Fire Service Directorate
  • David McGown, SFRS Assistant Chief Officer
  • Stuart Stevens, SFRS Area Manager
  • David Signorini, Head of Better Homes
  • Tom Steele, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Bill Connolly, Health Facilities Scotland
  • Emma Innocent, Communications


  • Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs
  • Lesley Fraser, Director Housing & Social Justice
  • Gillian Russell, Director Safer Communities
  • Martyn Emberson, HM Fire Service Directorate
  • Stephen Garland, Head of Housing Sustainability Unit
  • Jeanette Campbell, Special Adviser
  • Wendy Wilkinson, Safer Communities Division

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Action Points from previous meeting

Minutes of the previous meeting on 29th August2017 were agreed.

Update on previously agreed action points:

1. SFRS to liaise with local housing providers and COSLA on how best to engage with tenants on issues such as evacuation procedures and signage. COMPLETED discussed further at agenda item 5.
2. HFS and NHS GG&C to update Ministers on next steps as soon as sufficient detailed information was available for them to do so. COMPLETED discussed further at item 2
3. Officials to take forward work to commission an inventory of design of all high rise domestic buildings in Scotland. COMPLETED
4. SFRS to share paper with MWG on information sharing with partners including Wheatley Group and Police Scotland. COMPLETED
5. Officials to organise September meeting at SFRS site at Cambuslang. COMPLETED

2. Update on information gathering

An update on information gathering was discussed. The following main points were noted:

  • high rise social housing, schools, universities and colleges - no ACM cladding had been identified;
  • universities and colleges - no ACM cladding had been identified however Abertay teaching building investigations underway.
  • 31 local authorities had reported that no private high rise housing had ACM. Following discussion on information submitted by Glasgow City Council MWG expressed concern at the detail and quality of information provided particularly in relation to type and extent of ACM identified, and requested that further analysis was undertaken;
  • education directors and local authority chief executives had responded to DFM letter confirming fire safety of the school estate;
  • FE/HE student accommodation: noted that SFC had commissioned a contractor to complete checks and work was on-going;
  • Care homes – investigations complete.

Work remained to be done to complete information gathered in relation to hospitality and hotel sector. Officials were continuing to engage the appropriate organisations.

Health Facilities Scotland (HFS) provided an update on the NHS estate and on-going investigations at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) and Royal Infirmary Edinburgh (RIE). As a precautionary measure a small section of cladding on QEUH would be removed and replaced. Panels at RIE would be tested by British Research Establishment (BRE) to inform decisions about next steps. SFRS noted that compartmentation and evacuation routes in RIE are good and that the RIE achieved a ‘High’ in annual fire safety audits of their safety measures and risk was deemed low. Additionally any calls to SFRS placed from ERI would automatically receive a high level response. HFS confirmed that additional preventative measures were taking place at ERI as an additional precaution whilst this further testing was undertaken.

AP1 – RIE panels to be sent to BRE for testing

AP2 – Request further analysis of Glasgow data in relation to private high rise domestic buildings

3. Udate on UK position

The Grenfell Inquiry had published its Terms of Reference on 10th August, and the UK Building Standards Review terms of reference had been published on 30th August.

UK Building Standards Review: an interim report was anticipated in autumn 2017 and a final report following in spring 2018. It was expected that the UK review would make recommendations for changes to English building regulations, to be taken forward at a later date. Engagement with UK Government officials was on-going and Dame Judith Hackitt had made contact with SG officials and Ministers to discuss Scottish regulations and possible synergies across respective reviews. Ministers agreed that close working across the review processes was desirable and that the Scottish Government would continue to offer its support to the UK Government. The UK Expert Panel remit had been widened to consider any implications arising from EWI issues.

4. UK full scale fire test

UK fire tests were complete and results confirmed that the requirements of Scottish building regulations would not allow for use the same combustible materials as those found at Grenfell. UK Government would consolidate and publish information regarding UK fire testing results to fully inform building owners.

5. Update on work programme

The group noted the good progress made and were updated on the work plan including:

  • the programme management, reporting and governance arrangements;
  • publication of a consultation on smoke and fire detection standards, and extensive communications over the life of the consultation to maximise public engagement;
  • terms of reference and membership of the review groups which would take forward the review of building fire standards and compliance and enforcement;
  • SFRS fire safety campaign and their thematic action plan which was expected to be launched early October. This would highlight the partnership approach between SFRS, local authorities and the Scottish Government. The campaign would be widespread and comprehensive.

6. External Wall Insulation

Building Standards officials had written to all Local Authorities about EWI and wind load calculations. Research by BBA was being peer reviewed by the UK Government’s Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS). Scottish Ministers would subsequently discuss findings with the UK Government.

AP3 – Minister to discuss with UK counterparts when outcomes of UK Government peer review is known.

7. AOB & date and focus of future meetings

A further meeting will be scheduled for October with another before the end of 2017. Dates to be confirmed.

8. Fire Safety House Tour

SFRS led the group on a tour of the safe and well house used by a variety of stakeholders for learning on fire safety and social care issues.

Fire Tests Presentation.pdf



Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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