Scotland

Fires at tower blocks in Scotland fall to an eight-year low

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The number of fires in high-rise flats in Scotland has fallen to its lowest level in eight years.

In total, 238 incidents were reported in 2016/17 in buildings at least 10 storeys high, down more than half (52%) on 2009/10 when there were 499 fires.

It was also a drop on 2015/16 when there were 314 incidents, Scottish Fire and Rescue figures showed.

The statistics were released as investigations continue into the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

At least 80 people were killed when fire tore through the 24-floor tower early on 14 June, with the building's cladding suspected to be central to its spread.

The Scottish fire service's figures also revealed that casualty rates have decreased in buildings of more than 10 storeys, with 45 recorded in 2016/17, almost 30% down on the previous year when the figure stood at 64.

'Tried and tested advice'

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) assistant chief officer David McGown said: "The SFRS attends at every emergency and has an agreed standard operating procedure in place which sets out how fires in high-rise premises should be dealt with, utilising appropriate training and equipment, including high-reach appliances.

"Whilst it is encouraging to note an overall reduction in the number of fires affecting domestic properties, we are not complacent.

"We routinely carry out operational assurance visits at high-rise premises for the purposes of checking facilities and arrangements for firefighting and firefighter safety.

"In addition, we have specific safety information relating to high-rise premises available on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service website.

"This includes tried and tested national advice regarding what to do in the event of a fire, should the fire occur in the flat you are in or elsewhere in the building."

In the past year, firefighters carried out 70,743 home fire safety visits, which help detect risks in the home.

They have also carried out more than 2,400 operational assurance visits at high-rise properties where communal facilities, such as stairwells, are checked for the purposes of firefighting and firefighter safety.

All high rise building built since 2005 must be fitted with sprinklers but there is no obligation to fit the potentially life-saving systems in older tower blocks.

Earlier this week, BBC Scotland revealed that more than 300 residential high rise buildings in Scotland do not have sprinklers.

It led to calls for the systems to be retrofitted in the buildings. The Scottish government said it would consider evidence about sprinklers as part of a wider review of fire safety in high rise buildings.

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