Attendees and apologies
- Wendy Wilkinson, Deputy Director Safer Communities Division (Co-Chair)
- Dave Signorini, Head of Better Homes Division (Co-Chair)
- Stuart Stevens, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)
- Nicola Dickie, COSLA
- David Reid, Property Managers Association Scotland (PMAS)
- David Doran, Property Managers Association Scotland (PMAS)
- Alex Adrain, Wheatley Group
- David Stewart, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA)
- Kenny McGinty, Maryhill Housing
- Michael Doherty, New Gorbals Housing Association
- Jess McPherson, Building and Fire Safety Coordination Team
- Tom Hardy, Fire and Rescue Unit, Scottish Government
- Linda White, Fire and Rescue Unit, Scottish Government
- Colin Hird, Building Standards Division, Scottish Government
- Clyde Ashby, Building Standards Division, Scottish Government
- Luke Macauley, Better Homes Division, Scottish Government
- Tony Cain, Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers (ALACHO)
- Ashley Campbell, Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH)
- Stephen Garland, Better Homes Division, Scottish Government
- David Murdoch, Scottish Government Legal Department
Items and actions
The Co-chairs welcomed members to the meeting. It was noted that following an initial exploratory meeting with key stakeholders in November 2017 about the proposed outline of the Review, this was the first official meeting of the Review Advisory Group.
Review Scope and Role of the Group
This Review will be focused on existing fire safety regimes and associated frameworks in relation to high-rise domestic properties with a floor height over 18 metres above the ground. This definition is in line with the building standards classification of high rise buildings.
The purpose of this Review is to ensure that the fire safety regime and regulatory framework in Scotland provides comprehensive protection to tenants and residents of high rise domestic buildings and is robust and fully fit for purpose.
It will focus on reviewing existing fire safety legislation and associated frameworks and identify and recommend whether any changes are required to the legislation in order to improve, if necessary, fire safety for those who live in high rise domestic properties in Scotland.
It was noted that possible changes to legislation are not the only route or focus of this Review. A research and mapping exercise will be carried out to assess the intent of current legislation and whether this is reflected in practice. This exercise will also help to identify any gaps in legislation and whether there is a need to focus on the promotion of high rise domestic fire safety rather than a change to legislation.
The current legislative picture for high rise domestic properties in Scotland is complex and there is currently no single fire safety regime for high rise domestic buildings in Scotland and no existing definition of what a fire safety regime is and what it should cover.
A risk-based approach is being taken to the Review of the Fire Safety Regime. Focus will be on high rise domestic buildings in the first instance, as agreed by the Ministerial Working Group on Buildings and Fire Safety.
Therefore the following buildings are outwith the scope of the Review:
- All other domestic premises
- Non-domestic residential high-rise buildings where people sleep
- Non-domestic, non-residential premises
It was however advised that following this phase, consideration will be given to extending the Review to include other domestic properties.
The group were presented with the Review governance structure which outlined the interdependencies with the other two reviews, led by building standards, that are being undertaken as part of the work of the Ministerial Working Group.
It was advised that a Review Team, led by SG policy officials, would be responsible for carrying out the work of this Review and undertaking the research and mapping associated with this Fire Safety Regime Review.
Members of the Advisory Group will bring their expertise and contribute advice and guidance to the Review discussions as well as scrutinising any proposed Review recommendations, supporting research and policy proposals.
It was agreed that members will represent their own views at meetings rather than their organisations. The Co-chairs emphasised the need to be as transparent as possible and updates on progress with the Review will be shared publically.
At the end of January 2018, the Ministerial Working Group on Buildings and Fire Safety approved the initial scope and approach to this Review.
A Review Team and an Advisory Group have now been established.
The Chairs of the three Reviews have committed to meeting on a regular basis to ensure alignment and avoid potential overlaps in work.
High rise domestic buildings
The group discussed the number of high rise domestic buildings in Scotland, and their location across the country. Scottish Government does not hold detailed information on the number of high rise domestic buildings by tenure, however, it was reported that an inventory of high rise buildings in Scotland was currently underway which would help capture this information along with information on building design, type, construction etc.
This inventory is being undertaken in order to better understand how further improvements to fire safety in the existing building stock could be made. The inventory will provide an overview of the types of high-rise domestic blocks, their construction and an understanding of their existing fire safety measures. This work is expected to be complete in the Autumn.
It was also noted that as part of the work of the Review of Fire Safety in Building Standards, the Fire Industry Association, BRE Trust, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the Scottish Government are currently working collaboratively on research looking at the targeted approach to fire safety based on a detailed analysis of Scottish fire deaths and serious injuries from 2013-16.
It is expected that the outcomes of the research will be concluded in 2018 and this will help to inform future Scottish Government and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service policy to reduce fire deaths and injuries in Scotland.
A five stage approach to the Review was presented. This included:
Stage One: Mapping - establishing the current fire safety regime.
Stage Two: Research - establishing how the current regime is applied in practice, the legislation intent etc.
Stage Three: Comparisons - comparisons with other fire safety regimes across the UK, and possibly other comparable countries as a benchmark.
Stage Four: Assessment – identifying the pros and cons of potential options for inclusion in the regime as well as the impact, benefits and risks of implementing any changes to legislation and/or to existing practice.
Stage Five: Recommendations – outlining the indicative timescales for presenting the Review recommendations to the MWG in July 2018.
The group agreed this staged approach was appropriate and to the proposal of meeting on another three occasions during the course of the Review.
ACTION: L White to schedule three future meetings of the group.
The Review will take on board the outputs and any recommendations from the following:
Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report following the publication of her interim report in December 2017.
Findings from the Grenfell Inquiry.
Smoke and Fire Alarm Consultation - the consultation has now closed and the analysis report will be published shortly.
Proposed Member’s Bill on Sprinklers in Social Housing – consultation launched in January and will close 16 April 2018.
Members took part in a group exercise to explore and discuss the approach to the mapping and research phase of the Review.
The Review Team will continue to progress the mapping and research exercise.
Reporting timescales are still to be finalised however the Review Team will report back on their progress to the Advisory Group within the next two months.
In response to the question of who else should be represented on the group, the following suggestions were made:
Tenants and owners – it was advised that a Tenants and Residents Group had already been established and this group will be utilised accordingly.
The Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland should be invited.
ACTION: N Dickie, CoSLA to make contact with SCOTSS
- It was noted that the Scottish Association of Landlords, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Fire Brigades Union had been invited to join this group and their acceptance was awaited.