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Fire safety system at Mac was just weeks from completion

Mac fire 2018 2
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A fire safety system at the Glasgow School of Art was nearing completion when the historic building was gutted by a second blaze, according to a trade body

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) said that large pumps for the fire suppression system had arrived at the art school the day before the blaze.

The association said it would have taken weeks to complete the installation.


Keith MacGillivray, chief executive of BAFSA told BBC Scotland: ’They are very large pumps, so they were delivered in component parts.

’It would have taken some weeks to reassemble the pumps and connect up the pipework and obviously the water tanks would have had to be connected and put in place as well.

’Everything would also would have had to be tested thoroughly before being made operational.’

It echoes the first major fire at the Mac in 2014, when a high-pressure water mist system which could have prevented the blaze was ’97 per cent complete’.

At the time, critics said that water mist systems had started to be adopted in buildings five years before the fire and questioned why the GSA did not already have one in place.

Building control officers have warned the public to stay away from the scene of the fire over fears the end walls of the building could collapse ‘without warning’. 

In an update on Friday, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: ‘The situation is extremely challenging. We have been able to carry out initial surveys of the Mackintosh building, which have raised significant concerns about the west and east elevations.

’However, we are still working with The Glasgow School of Art and Historic Environment Scotland to devise a methodology to allow us to safely examine the building at closer quarters, which, we hope, will give us more clarity about its condition and any threat to public safety.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It has now been reported in the press that the contractor has claimed that there were extensive security and safety precautions in place as part of the reconstruction project.
    It can surely be only a matter of time before there are questions asked about the competence of this contractor (Kier), given the disastrous history of their new-build Dumfries Leisure Centre since completion in 2008.
    I wonder how they can have been pre-qualified for the Mac reconstruction - and can have £181m of public building work in progress in Scotland?

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