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March 1, 2023


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Calls for building regulations to include mandatory sprinklers in hotels to improve safety

Two men who died in a hotel fire would have survived if sprinklers had been installed, an inquiry has found.

The incident at Cameron House Hotel near Loch Lomond, Scotland, in 2017 also saw three others treated at hospital.

The Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) found the hotel had a number of defects regarding fire safety and the deaths could have been avoided.

It has led to calls for sprinklers to be required in such buildings, which is not currently the case.

In his report Sheriff Thomas McCartney called for the Scottish government to “consider introducing for future conversions of historic buildings to be used as hotel accommodation a requirement to have active fire suppression systems installed”.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has also stated “the recommendation should be taken further and applied to all buildings used by the general public”.

The hotel has since reopened with improved fire safety systems including a sprinkler system.

It follows a previous fire at the 100-bed Moorfield Hotel in Brae on the Shetland Islands in July 2020. The fire at the modern, seven-year-old hotel building broke out in a linen cupboard in the early hours of the morning and completely destroyed the building.

Before that, an unsprinklered Premier Inn in Bristol was largely destroyed in 2019 despite the efforts of 60 firefighters. The rebuilt hotel was completed in 2021 and has a BREEAM ‘very good’ rating by achieving more than a 40 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions over and above the standards set in prior Building Regulations – but automatic sprinklers were not installed.

In the same year, fire completely destroyed a Holiday Inn on Wolverhampton Road West in Willenhall near Walsall and the Claremont Hotel in Eastbourne.

Before the blaze West Midlands Fire Service recommended the Holiday Inn fit sprinklers in the building, but they were never installed.

Both buildings were subsequently demolished and are yet to be rebuilt.

The Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA), an alliance of fire safety professionals which aims to highlight the true cost of fire and increase the number of business premises that have automatic fire sprinklers fitted, said they need to be mandatory.

A spokesperson said: “Building standards/regulations guidance are silent on the provision of sprinklers in these hotels irrespective of the height of the buildings.

“If they had, sprinkler systems would most likely have contained these fires as they would have activated automatically.

“Evidence shows that while sprinklers are primarily intended to contain or control fires, they can also be instrumental in saving people’s lives.”

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