1.0 Executive Summary
This report shares the findings, conclusions and actions from the Short-Life Working Group (SLWG), created following the publication of the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) report on 11 January 2023 into the deaths of Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson following a building fire at Cameron House Hotel on 18 December 2017. This work and final report has been overseen by the Scottish Government’s Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety (MWG).
This report provides a brief overview of the conversion and subsequent renovation of the Cameron House Hotel. It also provides details of the short term and long-term actions by the hotel and bed and breakfast industry, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Historic Environment Scotland in response to the FAI recommendations.
The action points arising from the SLWG’s work are set out here:
- Communication: The Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA) and UK Hospitality Scotland (UKHS) will ensure regular communications to and with their member networks on fire safety and will continue to share relevant updates from professional bodies.
- Operating procedures: UKHS, STA, Scottish B&B Association and other trade bodies will continue to engage with their membership to introduce revised operating procedures based on the advice set out in this report, and generally to review their processes on fire safety and evacuation.
- Review process: the STA and UKHS will continue to assess how many businesses are accessing the information shared and the resources available for businesses on their websites.
Scottish Government response:
- Automatic fire suppression systems, short term measure: The Scottish Government will amend the guidance in the technical handbooks to promote the use of automatic fire suppression systems for historic building conversions to hotels. This will be actioned during 2023.
- Automatic fire suppression systems, short term measure: The Scottish Government will amend the Section 34 letter to Local Authority Chief Executives under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 (Section 34 - Reports and Information - Notification of Application for Building Warrant - Section 2 – Fire) to require that a verifier must notify the Scottish Government where future conversions of historic buildings are to be used as hotel accommodation. This will be actioned by 31 October 2023.
- Voids and cavities, short term measure: The Scottish Government will work with partners including industry, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Local Authority Building Standards Scotland/The Building Standards Hub, and Historic Environment Scotland to promote key fire safety messages around the dangers of historic construction techniques, materials, and fire spread in hidden voids. This will be an ongoing action with the first workshop set up by the end of 2023.
- Automatic fire suppression systems, long term measure: The Scottish Government will constitute an expert working group to consider mandating such systems where historic buildings are being converted into hotels. The group’s membership will be agreed by 31 October 2023 and the Terms of Reference and remit will be in place by 31 December 2023.
- Voids and cavities, long term measure: the expert group will also consider the special risks which existing hotels and similar premises may pose through the presence of hidden cavities or voids, historic construction techniques, varying standards of workmanship, age, and variance from current standards/guidance. This will be part of the scope of the expert working group as above with the remit for the group in place by 31 December 2023.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) response:
- Operations and procedures: the SFRS have updated Fire Safety Audit Procedures and Guidance to detail key actions that all Protection Officers must apply. This includes verbal discussions with dutyholders immediately after an audit has taken place and formal written letters are provided to dutyholders within 14 days.
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) response:
- Short term measure: update the ‘Managing Change’ guidance note on Fire and Historic Buildings in Autumn 2023.
- Short term measure: consult on ‘A Short Guide to Fire Safety in Traditional Buildings’ in Autumn 2023.
- Long term measure: produce case studies associated with the Managing Change guidance.
- Long term measure: review and update HES Guide for Practitioners 6 (Conversion of Traditional Buildings).
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