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Mackintosh Phoenix 2? Councillor Gives Hope And Contingency Planning Update

Mackintosh Building - Councillor Gives Hope
Mackintosh Building fire
Glasgow fire disruption
18 June 2018 | Updated 19 June 2018

The Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Susan Aitken, has given an update on the Glasgow School of Art fire and the contingency measures put in place - and also gave some hope the building may be salvaged.

Aitken said: "Our Resilience team worked with staff from the Health and Social Care Partnership and Cordia to establish a rest centre at the Mitchell Library in the early hours of Saturday morning. Temporary accommodation was arranged for a those evacuated by the emergency services and that remains in place. However, we are conscious that there are people who initially made their own arrangements, or who may have been out of the city at the weekend, who could still need advice or temporary accommodation."


Business support

On Monday June 18, the Council set about establishing a Sauchiehall Street taskforce to manage all aspects of recovery - including support for businesses. Business advisors spent the morning establishing contact with as many local businesses as possible.

According to Aitken, the Council is ready to discuss business rates refunds and appeals, where required. She said: "Our Business Support team has spent the day contacting as many businesses as they can to assess and understand the challenges they are facing. In many cases, the immediate problem is access - which unfortunately is unavoidable while the emergency response is ongoing.

"However, there is a process by which businesses who are in an exclusion zone can apply for a zero rating on business rates, for the period in which they can't operate. I'm encouraging anyone in that position to apply - and our officers will be able to give advice on how to do that."



A number of local road closures remain in place.

There are reports of rodents being displaced from the site following the fire, so the Council will deploy additional pest-control resources into the surrounding area.

Aitken said: "We understand there are reports of rodents in the area and it is likely they have been displaced as drains fill with water during the firefighting operation. As it becomes clearer where they are being displaced to, we are putting additional pest control resources into the area to get on top of that situation."



On Tuesday, Aitken told Good Morning Scotland that initial assessments by building control officers had a degree of positivity: "Certainly I think the consensus is that there is hope and we are certainly not writing off the Mackintosh building yet. Our focus will be to try and save that building and finding a future for it - but it's very early days."



Cordons and road closures will remain in place for the foreseeable future. The roads affected are Sauchiehall Street, Hill Street, Dalhousie Street, Renfrew Street and Garnethill Street.

Business premises within the cordon will not get access until the area is deemed to be safe.



Assistant Chief Officer David McGown has said the investigation into Glasgow School of Art and O2 ABC fire will be complex. On Monday 18, he said: “We are now in our third full day of fire service operations. Firefighters have been working extremely hard on the scene since Friday night – and continue to do so today.

“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service recognises what the Glasgow School of Art building and O2 ABC mean to the people of Glasgow and the impact on smaller local businesses who have also been affected.

“The investigation into this devastating incident has already commenced. Our fire investigation team has started gathering information and working alongside our police partners, will look at various sources of information to establish exactly what has happened here.

“However, I would like to stress that this is a very complex process and will take time. Our Fire Investigations team are specialists in their own field. They will look at every aspect of this incident – including the cause of the fire, how it spread and what safety measures were in place.


Kier updated comment

During the restoration, day-to-day management of the site was under the control of main contractor Kier Construction Scotland.

A Kier spokesperson said: “An agreed fire safety strategy was implemented for the build phase of the Mackintosh restoration project, which combined measures for the protection of all those entering the site to work and to alert the authorities in the event of an outbreak of fire.  These included a smoke and heat detection system and regular evacuation tests as well as 24 hour, 7 days a week security and fire warden patrols by a team of three guards, originally appointed by the client after the 2014 fire and subsequently by Kier.

"We continue to work with and support Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our client as they determine the next steps for the Mackintosh building and site. We have a passionate team of local construction and crafts people, skilled conservators, supply chain and engineering specialists who have worked incredibly hard on this iconic landmark. Together we are all keen to do whatever we can to help moving forward.”


Previous Reporting

Mackintosh Building May Need To Come DownThe Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was still in attendance at Glasgow’s School of Art on Sunday (June 17) evening following a massive blaze.

Construction experts are warning that the historic Rennie Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing refurbishment following a major fire that virtually destroyed the west wing in 2014, may now have to be pulled down.

At its height, more than 120 firefighters and 20 fire engines were mobilised to the latest fire which broke out after 11:00pm on Friday, June 15.

Around 50 firefighters and six fire engines were still dampening down on Sunday - all around the building from Dalhousie Street to Sauchiehall Street and into Renfrew Street.

A statement from the School of Art Directors said: "We are liaising closely with SFRS (Scottish Fire & rescue Service), with Kier Construction Scotland (the Mackintosh Building contractors) and both the Scottish and UK Governments.  SFRS investigations are ongoing and we are awaiting their outcome."

During the restoration, day-to-day management of the site was under the control of main contractor Kier Construction Scotland. Kier was contacted by ThisWeekinFM. A statement read: 'Kier has been working with the Glasgow School of Art since 2016 on the restoration of the Mackintosh building and so we share the devastation felt by the School and the wider public at this time. We are working closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in their investigation and as such it would be inappropriate to comment further whilst an investigation is ongoing'.


Immediate concerns

The Directors' statement continued: "The Mackintosh Building has been undergoing a period of extensive restoration following the fire in 2014 and therefore has not been a part of the GSA’s operational campus for four years.  Whilst the fire in ‘the Mack’ is devastating news, The Glasgow School of Art’s immediate focus is on our students and on the continuing operation of the GSA to ensure minimum disruption to students and staff.  The GSA and all of its buildings will remain closed for the next week and we will provide updates as and when information is available."



Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “I would just like to say what an outstanding job, how proud I am and what a professional service the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is. And they can’t do that job without the incredible support they have had from our control room and also from other partners, Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, Salvation Army and Glasgow City Council."


Initial inspection

On Saturday, a inspection of other parts of the site took place: A spokesperson told ThisWeekinFM: "Today, for the first time since the fire, we have had an opportunity to have access to our adjoining buildings and the process of assessing them is now underway.  We have also had visible sight of the Mackintosh Building."

Muriel Gray, Chair of the Board of Governors, GSA said “It is an understatement to say everyone is utterly devastated.  We now have a difficult waiting game until Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Glasgow City Council and associated agencies have completed their investigations into the condition of the building. We remain hopeful of as positive an outcome as possible because it is clear that the love for the Mackintosh and recognition of its importance to Glasgow and the wider world is shared by absolutely everyone.”

Professor Tom Inns, Director at the GSA said: “We are heartbroken our beloved Mackintosh Building has suffered another major fire.  Our entire community - staff, students, alumni, supporters and friends, will share our sadness at the events of Friday night.

"Our immediate priority is continuity for our students and planning for the 2018/19 academic year in what is clearly a challenging environment. However, we are strengthened by the continued messages and visible acts of support from Glasgow City Council, Scottish Funding Council, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish and UK Governments.

The iconic music venue the O2 ABC and adjoining buildings have also been affected. The ABC has been gutted and may also need to be pulled down. A fire at Victoria's nightclub in nearby Sauchiehall Street in March has seen Glasgow City Council confirm the building will need to be demolished.


At the scene

Group Manager Martin Hill is the officer in charge of the incident. He said: "We are using thermal imaging cameras to identify any hidden hot spots and will continue, working alongside partners, to assess our priorities and our tactical firefighting operation. We will remain on the scene for as long as it takes - we are absolutely committed to preventing any further damage to surrounding properties and ensuring the area is made safe."

Picture: After a second fire in four years, the famous Rennie Mackintosh Building may need to be pulled down.

For previous ThisWeekinFM reporting of Glasgow fires including the original blaze at the Mackintosh Building -

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At the hieght of the fire, a tower ladder was employed and water was pumped from the Clyde.


Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 18 June 2018


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