Review Panel on Building Standards (Fire Safety) in Scotland: report

Report by Dr Paul Stollard on recommendations of the Review Panel on Building Standards (Fire Safety) in Scotland.


34. The Review Panel were unanimous that the strategy of "stay put / defend in place" should remain as the basis for the guidance in the Domestic Technical Handbook. It has worked well and, provided its limitations are fully understood and there is the possibility of total evacuation should that becomes necessary, it remains safe.

35. However in the light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy the Review Panel considered if there were any additional requirements which should form part of the guidance within the Technical Handbook for domestic buildings.

36. On the need for additional stairways there was no consensus amongst the Review Panel members. However the view of the chair, which was endorsed by all members of the international sub-group, was that there was a need to require at least two stairways in high rise domestic buildings with a storey at a height of 18m. This is firstly to provide an alternative in case of the failure of the first stairway and secondly to provide a route for escape if the other stairway is being used for fire-fighting operations. The height of 18m is currently used with in the Technical Handbooks and it was considered sensible to retain it as it is well known and relates to the ability of the fire service to intervene if absolutely necessary through the use of high reach appliances.

37. The introduction of such new guidance should not be taken to indicate that the Review Panel considered that existing high domestic buildings with a single stairway were unsafe. It was simply the intention to ensure future buildings were even safer.

38. The Review Panel were unanimous in supporting the suggestion that to assist in full evacuation, in the unlikely event that this becomes necessary, domestic buildings with a storey at over 18m should be required to install an evacuation sounders in each flat. These would be activated by a "fireman's switch" at ground level.

39. It was also considered that due to the technical complexity of designing, installing and maintaining pressurised stairways this option should be removed from the guidance within the Technical Handbooks. This would not prevent their use as part of a design which showed compliance using the performance based fire safety engineering approach.

Recommendation 5

5. Changes are needed to the simple guidance on Escape (2.9). In domestic buildings over 18m there should be:
5.1 Two stairways.
5.2 Fire service activated evacuation sounders in each floor.


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