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AJ to give special award to 'heroic' firefighters for saving Mac

The Architects’ Journal is to present a special architectural award to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for its extraordinary efforts in saving one of the world’s most admired buildings, the Glasgow School of Art

AJ acting editor Rory Olcayto said: ‘Their bravery, quick-wittedness and civic pride are qualities the whole architecture profession should be grateful for.’

Last Friday (May 23) the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service fought for seven hours to control the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which threatened to destroy Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Grade A-listed Art Nouveau landmark.

As shocking pictures of the tragic incident were tweeted and broadcast around the world, many feared the architectural masterpiece and its contents would be lost forever.

But the fire service, which was on the scene just four minutes after the alarm was raised, not only managed to get the inferno under control, protecting more than 90 per cent of the structure, but succeeded in rescuing many irreplaceable artworks and national treasures.

In a feat of ‘incredibly intelligent’ firefighting, the teams not only stopped the blaze spreading to the older 1897 building, but salvaged furniture and artefacts at the east end of the building while they continued to fight the fire at the west end.

In all, more than 200 firefighters helped with the rescue. Their efforts ensured there were no human casualties and kept the damage to fabric and contents to a minimum.

It is understood the fire service will remain on site until it is ‘1,000 per cent sure that the building is safe from any further outbreak of fire’ while ‘helping to ensure that all the student artwork and GSA archive is retrieved from the building.’

AJ deputy editor Will Hurst said: ‘Despite the tragic loss of the Mac’s library, the efforts of the fire services in Glasgow have kept alive one of the nation’s design gems and performed an enormous service to architecture.’

He added: ‘Muriel Gray, the school’s chair, said it had “run out of words” with which to thank them, so the AJ thought it only right that we present the fire service with an honour recognising its magnificent actions that day.’ 

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