30 October 2014
Ten years after the fatal fire Rosepark Care Home in Lanarkshire, Scotland, MSP Michael McMahon tabled a Motion this week, recommending that all fire risk assessors should be qualified and preferably third party certificated, which was debated in the Scottish Parliament last night (29th October).
The fire at Rosepark claimed the lives of 14 elderly residents on 31 January 2004 after a fire broke out in a cupboard and ripped through the building.
In support of his Motion, McMahon pointed out that one key findings of the fatal accident enquiry was that the fire risk assessment had been inadequate and the person who carried it out was not qualified to do so.
The Uddingston and Bellshill MSP says that an awareness campaign would help duty holders responsible for care homes to understand the contents of the guidance and duty holders in commercial premises to appreciate the requirements placed on them by the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. His motion also highlights the contents of the Scottish Government's Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Care Homes, published in March 2014.
He acknowledged that there had been progress since the fatal fire, including the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the publication of the Guidance document, but added that “fire risk assessments in complex buildings such as care homes is challenging and the duty holder has to rely heavily on the capability and competency of the fire risk assessor.
“How can the duty holder be confident that the fire risk assessor is competent and the advice given is up to standard and up to date?”
Third party accreditation is the only way, said the MP and the Scottish Government should take immediate action by:
- Launching an awareness campaign demonstrating to businesses of the need for fire risk assessments, including direct contact through leaflets and via the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
- Embracing and advocating third party certification.
- Consulting the industry and stakeholders to make third party certification mandatory before an assessor can offer fire risk assessment services.
McMahon said that much had been done since the tragedy, but stressed that “more needs to be achieved in the area of fire risk assessment.”
“We owe it to the memory of those who lost their lives in Rosepark ten years ago, and their friends and relatives, to act decisively to prevent further fires.”
The Motion was supported by Margaret Mitchell MSP: “It is appropriate to evaluate whether, 10 years on, there are sufficient requirements placed on care homes to prevent such an accident happening again.”
MSPs Kenneth Gibson and Siobhan McMahon also supported the Motion, commenting that more could be done and there was no room for complacency, agreeing that third party certification was the way forward.
Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham responded, saying that much had already changed. She added that the Regulatory Review Group was currently looking at fire safety legislation and was due to report early next year. She promised to write and ask the group to look at fire risk assessment as part of the review.
In a bid to remove potential fire hazards, commercial buildings and non-domestic premises in Scotland are already forced to carry out a fire safety risk assessment under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, in conjunction with the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the enforcing authority has the power to prosecute the Dutyholder.
The Motion in detail
Motion S4M-11175 Michael McMahon: Fire Risk Assessments—That the Parliament is respectfully aware that the tragic fire at the Rosepark care home in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, that caused the deaths of 14 residents took place 10 years ago; notes the contents of Sheriff Principal Lockhart’s findings after the fatal accident inquiry into the fire, in particular, his conclusion that some or all of the deaths could have been prevented if the home had had a suitable and sufficient fire safety plan; further notes the contents of the Scottish Government’s Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Care Homes, published in March 2014; believes however that an awareness campaign would help duty holders responsible for care homes to understand the contents of the guidance and duty holders in commercial premises to appreciate the requirements placed on them by the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, in particular that of obtaining a fire risk assessment specific to each premise, and further believes that people offering services in fire risk assessment should be properly qualified, preferably by third party certification.