Are Scottish homes safe from ‘Grenfell’ fires? BBC Scotland looking away again


The headline is a question because, I only feel sure that I don’t know for sure what the situation is here and welcome comment from readers, some of whom will know more than I do about this quite technical issue.

However, from the BBC today:

‘Fire safety experts have warned that 1,700 buildings in England are likely to fail a new round of tests into cladding and building materials. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and tower blocks are among buildings which could be “at risk”, BBC 5 Live Investigates has learned.’

There’s no sign of BBC Scotland’s Disclosure Team on this. They’ll be busy investigating the worrying trend of dressing up puppies to look like babies.

Here’s what I did find about the response to Grenfell in Scotland:

  1. From the Scottish Government news website in February 2019:

‘New rules to reduce deaths in household fires have been announced today, with improved standards introduced for fire and smoke alarms in Scottish homes.  The improved standards will mean every home in the country must have a smoke alarm fitted in the living room or lounge, and in circulation spaces such as hallways and landings. The changes also mean every kitchen must have a heat alarm, and the alarms will have to be interlinked so they can be heard throughout the property. There must also be a carbon monoxide alarm where there are fixed combustion appliances. The new rules mean the standard which currently applies to private rented property and newbuilds is being extended to all homes in Scotland. The regulations come after a consultation carried out following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London in June 2017.’

  1. From BBC UK News in December 2018:

‘Fire safety checks across England have fallen by 42% over the last seven years, according to the new watchdog for fire and rescue services. HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services says brigades do a good job in emergencies, but amid cuts have reduced “vital” prevention work. The watchdog said the number of audits carried out by firefighters dropped from 84,575 in 2010-11 to 49,423 in 2017-18.’

  1. From the Scottish Government, published in August 2018:

‘The number of fire safety audits carried out in 2015/16 was 9,829. Most of the premises audited by the SFRS have relatively adequate fire safety measures and are categorised as ‘broadly compliant’ (9,180 audits: 93%). While 79% (7,779 audits) of the premises audited have average or low levels of relative risk.’

In Scotland 2015/16, 9 827 safety audits were carried out. England has 10 times the population and so, all things being equal, might have been expected to have seen 98 270 fire safety audits. However, in 2017/18, England saw only 49 423 fire safety audits, just over half the number. Fire safety audits in Scotland are thus almost twice as common, per head of population, in Scotland as in England.

Why? Cost-cutting Tory local authorities? Cost-cutting Tory central government?

  1. Two earlier reports perhaps still of interest here:

‘Stricter [fire] safety rules leave Scotland out of danger’ The English media spot the difference. Did BBC Scotland?

‘High rise fires in Scotland at lowest level in eight years’



4 thoughts on “Are Scottish homes safe from ‘Grenfell’ fires? BBC Scotland looking away again

  1. Rod Towers May 26, 2019 / 10:18 am

    Um, I’m all for fire safety but these regulations are always at the mercy of technology improvements. I’ve been concerned and scandalised by the fact that the regulations for private tenants are more rigourous than those for public sector tenants.

    Having fitted these systems to a variety of houses and been obliged to run some cables in unsightly trunking it’s good to note that long life lithium battery alarms with wireless connectivity seem to be allowed. Most problems with hard wired systems are that people don’t understand that you need to replace the back up battery every year. The alarm starts beeping, the households can’t get it to stop so either throw it away or destroy it. Also heat alarms in very small kitchens can be prone to false alarms, especially with high level oven.

    £200 might cover the purchase cost however getting a installer to fit will cost extra and the alarm have ten year life and will need replaced after this time. To dispose of them is another problem as they should not be put into land fill, my local authority will not take them on the doorstep collection, so that you will need to take them to a WEEE recycling point. These can be searched for online however I do wonder just how many alarms are recycled compared to the amount sold.

    All in all, without the backup from hard pressed local authorities I can see some major obstacles with this policy, not to say resistance from householders. It will, if well implemented save lives, but at a much larger cost that indicated and without a good PR campaign could actually be very unpopular.


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