The delayed installation of a water mist suppression system and presence of obsolete ventilation ducts exacerbated two fires at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), Scottish MSPs have concluded in a new report.
The report into the fires in 2014 and 2018 by the Scottish parliament’s culture committee pulled no punches over what it called the GSA’s attitude in taking precautions against the risk of fire at the Mackintosh building, especially during the restoration of the building after the first fire in 2014.
The committee also called for a public inquiry with judicial powers into the circumstances surrounding the two fires, examining what lessons might be learned from them and ascertaining the wider fire risks to historic buildings.
The MSPs also found that the GSA did not give sufficient priority to safeguarding the Macintosh building, and that its board had insufficient expertise in managing a building of this nature. They also recommend that the Scottish Government review the remit of Historic Environment Scotland to ensure it has sufficient powers to intervene to protect such buildings.
The committee found no evidence to back the assertion that fire safety measures went ‘above and beyond’ the standards required
Among its findings, the committee concluded that:
In the period up to 2014, the GSA appears not to have specifically addressed the heightened risk of fire to the Mackintosh building
It was not convinced that an adequate risk management approach to the Mackintosh building had been taken by the GSA
It was concerned about the length of time taken for a mist suppression system to be installed, and questions whether more could have done in the interim period to protect the building
The GSA has been unable to publicly articulate what lessons were learned from the 2014 fire
The committee found no evidence to back the GSA’s assertion that the fire safety measures it had taken were ‘above and beyond’ the standards required
It was not convinced that GSA has taken an adequate risk management approach
It could not determine whether the fire alarm system was switched on and fully operational on the night of the 2018 fire.