Sound alerts for evacuation in high rise buildings and extending the mandatory installation of sprinklers in new flats, will be introduced in legislation next year.

An additional key change in building standards will be to reduce the height from 18m to 11m and extend the range of new buildings for the use of non-combustible cladding.

The changes are part of a number of actions for improving building and fire safety which were agreed today by a Ministerial Working Group set up following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

They include:

  • Extending mandatory installation of sprinklers in flatted accommodation and in larger multi-occupancy dwellings and those which provide care.
  • Measures to improve evacuation, using sound alerts and two escape stairs in all new high rise residential buildings.
  • Developing a new documented compliance plan for high risk buildings to be prepared and maintained by the owner or developer – from pre-application to completion. This will set out the verifier planned inspection regime.
  • Strengthening enforcement guidance.
  • Development of a database to capture and maintain safety critical information for existing high rise residential buildings.
  • Specific fire safety guidance to residents of high rise domestic buildings and the introduction of guidance for fire risk assessments.

These are in addition to the new minimum standard for smoke and fire alarms, where we are extending the existing high standard currently required in private rented housing to all homes to ensure everyone has the highest level of protection.  The new standard will come into force from February 2021.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“The tragic events at Grenfell Tower last year emphasised how important building and fire safety is.  We’re confident that in Scotland we have stringent safety regulations but we have not been complacent.

“That is why we established the Ministerial Working Group (MWG) and undertook a thorough and critical review of the regulations we have in place – public safety is our priority.  I’m pleased that the MWG can now confirm the package of improvement measures that will be taken forward to make Scotland’s buildings even safer.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the review groups for their hard work to get us to this point.  Our next step will be amending legislation to strengthen our fire safety building standards and working swiftly with all interested parties to take forward actions needed on the key recommendations.”

Assistant Chief Officer David McGown of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, added:

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been fully involved in the work of the MWG, and its sub groups, since the tragic fire in Grenfell tower. The dynamic nature of the work of these groups has led to this wide range of clear recommendations, which the SFRS supports, to further enhance the safety measures in Scotland’s buildings.”