School of Art Submits New Fire Evidence

31 January 2019, 07:55

Glasgow art school mackintosh fire 2018

The Glasgow School of Art has submitted new evidence to MSPs about the second fire which broke out following what they say is "a need to address further rumours, supposition and speculation".

Earlier this month, an expert said he was "incredibly puzzled" as to why a mist suppression system that survived the first blaze in 2014 was ripped out of the Mackintosh Building before the second fire last June.

Independent fire, security and resilience adviser Stephen Mackenzie was giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Culture Committee when he stated "there should have been a temporary or phased installation" of the system.

Following his remarks, the GSA has lodged a new document to the committee regarding the system and the £35 million restoration programme.

Pumps on site but not yet installed suffered extensive water damage, it said, with much of the pipework in the western half of the building destroyed.

An up-to-date system was included in the project, with GSA again saying no temporary measure could have been installed during construction - even after seeking expert advice.

The new evidence states: "It is considered that the extent of restoration works could not have been carried out with a live fire suppression system being present as it would need to have the coverage, certification and equipment equivalent to that of a permanent system.

"The significantly higher risk of accidental flooding/water damage is also likely to be too great for an insurer to accept.

"These are all reasons why it is highly unusual to have an operational fire suppression system present during construction works of this scale and complexity, as the Committee has heard from various sources.

"The GSA is not aware of any example of a system that has been used that would have been relevant to the Mackintosh Restoration Project."

GSA bosses say the Mackintosh will be rebuilt, with no cause yet identified for the fire which affected nearby homes and businesses.

CCTV was put in place as part of the restoration work along with fire safety measures.

The document added: "Additional fire safety measures, including additional temporary fire doors, were installed during the construction works of the Mackintosh Restoration Project.

"The GSA also adopted enhanced protection for the building through its principal contractor, by requiring 24 hour security presence and an automatic fire detection system across the whole building.

"These measures were on top of the standard recommended by the Joint Fire Code.

"The scaffold was also covered by alarms and CCTV. Any suggestion that the Mackintosh Building was 'unprotected' during the Mackintosh Restoration Project is therefore not borne out by the evidence."

A spokeswoman for GSA said: "In our written submission ahead of our appearance at the meeting of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee on 15 November 2018 we stated that we welcomed the opportunity to address rumours, supposition and speculation circulating since the June 2018 fire in the Mackintosh Building.

"Following the meeting of the Committee on 17 January 2019 we considered that there was a need to address further rumours, supposition and speculation, in order to assist the Committee in its consideration of the evidence.

"Consequently, we have submitted a detailed response to a number of issues raised on 17 January. This has just been published on the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs website.

"We would like to thank the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs committee for the opportunity to submit this further information."