Scottish Parliament debates fire risk assessment procedures ten years on from Rosepark Care Home tragedy

Posted On 28 Oct 2014
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Ten years after the fatal fire at the Rosepark Care Home in Lanarkshire, Scotland, MSP Michael McMahon has tabled a Parliamentary Motion (debated in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 29 October) recommending that all fire risk assessors should be qualified and, preferably, third party certificated. The fire at the Rosepark Care Home on 31 January 2004 claimed the lives of 14 elderly residents after flames broke out in a cupboard and subsequently ripped through the building. In support of his Parliamentary Motion, McMahon pointed out that one key finding of the fatal accident enquiry into Rosepark was that the fire risk assessment had been inadequate and the person who carried it out wasn’t qualified to do so. The MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill in Glasgow believes an awareness campaign would help Duty Holders responsible for care homes to understand the contents of the guidance and those at commercial premises to appreciate the requirements placed on them by the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005. McMahon’s Parliamentary Motion also highlights the contents of the Scottish Government’s Practical Fire Safety Guidance for Care Homes, published back in March this year. McMahon acknowledges that there has been progress since the fatal Rosepark fire, but added:” Fire risk assessments in complex buildings such as care homes are challenging exercises. The Duty Holder has to rely heavily on the capabilities and competencies 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?” According to the MSP, third party accreditation is the only way forward and McMahon is now urging the Scottish Government to take immediate action by: *Launching an awareness campaign (including direct contact through leaflets and via the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service) demonstrating to businesses the need for fire risk assessments *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 Acting decisively to prevent further fires McMahon feels that much has been done since the Rosepark tragedy, but stresses 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 and prevent further fires,” urged the MSP. The Parliamentary Motion was supported by Margaret Mitchell MSP, who commented:” Ten years on from Rosepark, it’s appropriate to evaluate whether or not there are sufficient requirements placed on care homes to prevent such an accident from happening again.” MSPs Kenneth Gibson and Siobhan McMahon have also supported the Motion, stating that more can be done and that there’s no room for complacency. They agree that third party certification is the best way forward. Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham responded by saying that much had already changed. The minister added that the Regulatory Review Group is currently looking at fire safety legislation and is due to report back early next year. Cunningham has promised to write and ask the group to look at fire risk assessment as part of that extensive 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 Duty Holder.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.