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Mackin­­tosh fire: Kier defends safety strategy after blaze

Kier has defended the fire safety strategy in place during its renovation of the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building after a huge blaze gutted the building.

The contractor, which was carrying out the £35m renovation of the world-renowned Mackintosh Building, said it had an agreed fire strategy with the client which included a 24/7 fire patrol of the site.

The fire started late on Friday and has caused extensive damage to the listed building and several nearby properties.

It was the second major blaze at the site in four years after a fire in May 2014 also caused severe damage.

Kier was subsequently chosen to carry out the building’s £35m renovation. 

A spokeswoman for the company said its fire safety measures included smoke and heat detection systems, as well as the appointment of a 24/7 patrol.

The spokeswoman said: “An agreed fire safety strategy was implemented for the build phase of the Mackintosh restoration project, which combined measures for the protection of all those entering the site to work and to alert the authorities in the event of an outbreak of fire.

“These included a smoke and heat detection system and regular evacuation tests, as well as 24-hour, seven-days-a-week security and fire warden patrols by a team of three guards, originally appointed by the client after the 2014 fire and subsequently by Kier.”

At the height of the latest fire, 120 firefighters and 10 fire engines were used to tackle the blaze.

Three fire engines remained at the scene on Monday, with the fire largely extinguished apart from a few pockets.

When asked over the weekend if any of the restoration work had been destroyed, Scottish Fire and Rescue deputy assistant chief officer Peter Heath said: “I would say, given the extent of the fire, that would be a fair comment.”

Kier’s programme of works was set to be completed ahead of the Mackintosh Building’s planned reopening next year.

Fire experts have said  the cost of rebuilding the Mackintosh could be at least £100m.

Glasgow City Council has said despite considerable damage to the building, it was “saveable”.

A council spokesman told The Guardian: ”The external fabric of the building appears to be saveable except for the eastern gable, which appears to have shifted slightly. This is because the walls are tied together by the roof.

“There is a consensus emerging that the intention of the building control people, HES people and the art school is to save the building.”

Investigations into what caused the fire are ongoing, with SFRS assistant chief officer David McGowan saying the work would be “complex and thorough”.

Mr McGowan said: “Our fire investigation team has started gathering information and, working alongside our police partners, will look at various sources of information to establish exactly what has happened here.

“However, I would like to stress that this is a very complex process and will take time.

“It is of vital importance that we ensure the full facts and circumstances of this incident are clearly established.”

Kier said it would now work with the SFRS and university to look at the next steps for the site.

A spokeswoman said: “We continue to work with and support Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our client as they determine the next steps for the Mackintosh Building and site.

“We have a passionate team of local construction and crafts people, skilled conservators, supply chain and engineering specialists who have worked incredibly hard on this iconic landmark, and together we are all keen to do whatever we can to help moving forward.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • If Kier had all these procedures in place, What went wrong ??

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