Scotland reviews the use of sprinklers in converted historic buildings


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The Scottish Government has announced the establishment of an expert working group to evaluate the necessity of installing sprinkler systems in historic buildings that undergo transformation into hotels.

The motivation behind the sprinklers decision

This move follows the tragic Cameron House Hotel fire at Loch Lomond in December 2017.

Two individuals lost their lives in this catastrophe.

An inquiry into these deaths revealed that sprinklers might have “significantly slow the spread of flame and would extend the margin of safety for available escape time”.

The investigation further stated: “It was a real or likely possibility that if sprinklers had been installed and had worked to inhibit the extent and spread of the fire and smoke, Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson would have been able safely to escape the building”.

Subsequent to this inquiry, the Scottish Government initiated a preliminary group to assess the proposed measures.

They have now endorsed the formation of an expert group “to review the mandating of automatic fire suppression systems where historic buildings are being converted into hotels”.

BAFSA’s involvement and perspective on sprinklers

Ali Perry, the Chief Executive of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Assocaition (BAFSA), commented on the development: “BAFSA has been engaging with Scottish Building Standards on this issue and we hope to be involved in further discussions going forward”.

Further insights regarding this topic are to be revealed in an upcoming case study titled ‘The Cameron House Hotel Fire – Lessons Learnt’ authored by BAFSA’s Stewart Kidd.

Kidd is also set to present his findings to BAFSA members at their AGM afternoon seminar, scheduled for Thursday, 9th November at The Liverpool Marriott City Centre Hotel.

IFSJ Comment

The devastating Cameron House Hotel fire shed light on a critical gap in fire safety for historic buildings repurposed as hotels.

Ensuring these structures, with their unique architectures and histories, are equipped with modern fire suppression systems like sprinklers can significantly enhance safety margins.

The Scottish Government’s move to convene an expert group for reviewing this is a positive stride towards safeguarding not just the rich heritage these buildings carry, but more importantly, the lives that reside within them.

The discussions and outcomes of this group will likely set a precedent for similar architectural treasures across the globe.

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