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FOCUS


Shine a light


Last summer, the second fire to devastate the Glasgow School of Art brought construction site fires into sharp relief, writes Catherine Levin


L


AST OCTOBER, Joan McAlpine MSP took centre stage at the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External


Affairs Committee looking into the second Glasgow School of Art fire. On 15 June, this fire had gutted the architecturally significant and world famous building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. At that time, the building was still undergoing restoration from the severe damage caused by a previous fire in May 2014, which was accidentally sparked by a student project. At the time of the second fi re, the Mackintosh


building was therefore a construction site, and Ms McAlpine, the Scottish National Party member for South Scotland, focused some of her questions on the fi re safety precautions that were in place. Among other things, she asked about the ducting, fire stopping and fire detection measures. This hearing should be watched online


by anyone in the construction industry who is thinking about how they manage the risk of fire on their sites, because when that risk is realised – for whatever reason – the level of scrutiny can be very public and very damaging to both reputation and the bottom line.


36 FEBRUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com Learning lessons


It took 120 fi refi ghters to deal with the huge fi re, which affected not only the Mackintosh Building, but also surrounding buildings. In common with all fi res, determining its cause is critical to understanding how to learn from it and improve future mitigation. For the Glasgow School of Art, the fire


investigation lies with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Assistant chief officer David McGown said in a statement shortly after the fi re: ‘This is a formidable investigation, it is a very complex process… that will take time’. There is still no sign of the fi re investigation report. The Glasgow School of Art fi re is well known. It


speaks to the potentially wide ranging and long term impacts a construction site fi re can have, not just on the contractors and client involved in the construction, but also on nearby residents and businesses. Some businesses were only fi nally able to return to their premises four months after the fi re and have racked up considerable losses as a result. Reinsurer Munich RE provides a useful


reminder of the consequences of fire in this context in the introduction to the guide it produced with HSB Engineering Insurance


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