Fire suppression sprinkler systems could become mandatory after new traumatic security camera footage. More specifically, this footage shows the blaze that killed two 30-year-old males in Loch Lomond.
Firstly, a fire broke out in a luxury Scottish hotel back in December 2017. Subsequently, this resulted in the deaths of 32-year-old, Simon Midgley and his 38-year-old boyfriend Richard Dyson.
Initially, the blaze started when a night porter, Christopher O’Malley, placed a black plastic bag containing hot fuel fire embers into a hotel storage cupboard. This cupboard contained various combustibles including kindling and paper which later caught alight from the heat produced by the embers.
Could This Have Been Prevented With Fire Sprinkler Systems?
The Cameron House Hotel near Loch Lomond was once described as luxurious. However, the flames caused most of the building to collapse. Following the incident, the fire investigator reported that more than 75% of the main building had been “severely damaged”. Therefore repairs were made and the focus shifted to preventative measures.
It’s important to note, many specialists in this field are suggesting that the loss of the men’s lives was easily preventable. As a result, governing bodies are researching the benefits of active fire sprinkler systems. When fire safety specialists put the suggestion forward, the hotel operators responded by saying that “due to the building’s age, sprinklers would have been completely impractical”.
…The hotel has since installed fire sprinkler systems on its premises.
If we circle back to the initial incident, it was reported that Dyson and Midgley sadly died from smoke inhalation. Among the two casualties, three others were injured and hospitalised. Luckily, the remaining 200 guests escaped safely.
In recent news, we now know that fire sprinkler systems would have significantly slowed the spread of flame. A slower spread would have extended the available escape time for the injured and deceased. This is according to evidence given by the architect and past chair of the Scottish Government’s Fire Safety Review Panel, Peter Drummond, at the inquiry.
Was There Any Justice for These Victims?
Firstly, Cameron House Resort has been fined £500,000. Cameron House Resort are the operator of this hotel. The fine was issued as a result of a breach of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. In addition, the night porter admitted fault and was given community payback for breaking health and safety laws.
Since the incident, the hotel reopened with improved fire safety systems. This included fire sprinkler systems and intensive staff training courses.
Fast Forward to Now, Do We Need Fire Sprinkler Systems?
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland has called for fire sprinkler systems to be made mandatory in all public buildings. This is a result of the fatal hotel fire. Additionally, the Royal Incorporation of Architects believes that a basic sprinkler system would have saved these lives.
Following the inquiry, it was ruled that the deaths of two men could have been avoided. The Loch Lomond Scottish hotel is now under heavy fire from the RIAS. Firstly, the RIAS is urging the Scottish Government to make fire sprinkler systems mandatory in all hotels. Large commercial residencies may be the start; however, some are vocalising that they are unimpressed by the limited scope of this.
Secondly, the RIAS believes that the time has come for drastic legislation changes and is pushing further to ensure mandatory fire sprinkler systems in all buildings used by the general public.
Following these recommendations, the Scottish Government must consider enforcing mandatory active fire suppression systems. We could soon see water fire sprinkler systems being fitted into any historic building that has undergone conversion into a hotel.
They said: ‘Our position is clear: there should be no legislative, financial or technical obstacles to ensuring public safety.’ RIAS offered its help to the Scottish government in overcoming any technical issues.
Alternative Fire Sprinkler System Regulations
The Scottish Government has issued guidance to housebuilders about fire sprinkler systems in their new fire safety regulations that will take effect in March 2021.
All new social homes, flats, and shared multi-occupied residential buildings in Scotland will be required to have automatic fire suppression systems. For more information, click here.
The Scottish Government has taken a strong stance on fire safety and has made it clear that they want to ensure that all the buildings in Scotland are safe. We hope that other countries will follow the example of Scotland and make sure their fire suppression regulations are up to date.
The new regulations will require all new homes and flats to be equipped with fire sprinkler systems or other fire suppression systems. This is a great move by The Scottish Government, however, we expect to see regulations set for hotels very soon.