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Mac bosses submit new evidence in bid to quell fire ‘rumours’

Mac fire 2018 5 web
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The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) has submitted new evidence to counter ‘rumours, supposition and speculation’ about whether a sprinkler system in the Mac had been needlessly removed 

Earlier this month an expert told the Scottish Parliament he was ‘incredibly puzzled’ as to why a mist suppression system that, it was understood, had survived the first blaze in 2014 was ripped out of the Mackintosh Building before the second fire last June.

Giving evidence to the parliament’s culture committee, independent fire expert Stephen Mackenzie said there should have been a ‘temporary or phased installation’ of the replacement system.

But the GSA has hit back against Mackenzie’s remarks, saying it wants to set the record straight over the committee’s understanding that the system had ‘broadly survived’ the 2014 fire.

In new evidence submitted to the Scottish government, the school said it wanted to end further ‘speculation’ about the sprinklers, insisting that the partially installed mist suppression system had, in fact, suffered ‘widespread damage’ in the 2014 blaze.

The pumps, which had been on site but not fitted, suffered extensive water damage, and much of the pipework in the western half of the building was destroyed, the GSA said.

It added: ‘It is therefore not the case that there was a 95 per cent complete mist suppression system following the 2014 fire’, the document read.

After seeking expert advice the GSA decided to install a new system as part of the Mac restoration project, rather than repair the damaged system. 

The college also addressed questions raised in the evidence sessions over why a temporary mist suppression system had not been installed in the landmark building.

It said: ‘To the best of the GSA’s knowledge, having sought expert advice, there is no temporary fire suppression system suitable for a building and project of the scale and complexity of the Mackintosh Building and the Mackintosh Restoration Project that could have been installed during the construction period.’

The Holyrood committee, which concluded earlier this month, set out to explore whether ‘poor decision-making or flawed processes’ had contributed to the loss of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s landmark building.

Separately The Times reported last week that fire chiefs believed last year’s fire had raged for around an hour before the alarm was raised.

Fire crews assessing the blaze said they estimated it had started between 45 and 60 minutes before they arrived on the scene.

The disclosure came during a meeting between Conservative MSP for Glasgow, Adam Tomkins, and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

The SFRS investigation into the cause fire remains ongoing. 

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