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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 15:13 GMT
New crackdown after fire tragedy
Rosepark Care Home
The fire at Rosepark Care Home killed 14 people
More buildings will be required to have fire sprinklers following the Rosepark Nursing Home blaze in Lanarkshire which led to the deaths of 14 people.

They will have to be fitted in all new high rise blocks of flats, residential care homes and sheltered housing.

The Scottish Executive is carrying out consultation on the proposals but hopes to have them in place by 2005.

The Residential Fire Sprinklers Bill, from Nationalist MSP Michael Matheson, will now be delayed.

He said he will wait until ministers publish their regulations.

Fire probe

Communities Minister Mary Mulligan said builders will have to install sprinkler systems from 1 May next year.

The minister also promised tougher guidance for existing buildings - especially residential care homes.

Advice on sprinklers in existing care homes will come later - after any recommendations from the fatal accident inquiry into the Rosepark blaze.

She said: "This is in response to research that was asked for two years ago so it is something the executive has been investigating for some time now.

The evidence demonstrates fire sprinklers not only save life but also prevent damage to properties
Michael Matheson

"It is essential that fire safety is given greater prominence and that everyone is alerted to the risks of fire in the home and the various strategies for controlling it.

"We are aware of the need for clear and authoritative guidance on risk assessment for different building types and it is our intention to improve that which is currently available."

The minister added: "The Fire Services Bill will put in place a new framework for the assessment of risk and give authority to guidance issued by the Scottish ministers."

Mr Matheson had his fire safety proposals before parliament prior to the deaths in Uddingston.

He claimed ministers were to adopt the "central plank" of his bill.

Life savers

He said he now plans to delay his bill, which is going through the Scottish Parliament at the moment, and will wait to see what happens with the executive proposals.

"Mary Mulligan should be applauded for finally accepting the overwhelming case that now exists," he said.

"The evidence demonstrates fire sprinklers not only save life but also prevent damage to properties.

"That's why I welcome the fact that the executive has now accepted that and will introduce the majority of what was within my Bill."

People's homes

The fire service welcomed the proposals as an additional measure to improve public safety and urged for sprinklers to be made compulsory in every homes.

Keith MacGillivray, of the Fire Officers' Association, said: I would like to see the introduction of life-saving safety sprinkler systems in domestic properties.

"A large majority of fatalities in Scotland occur in peoples homes so to introduce sprinklers there would be a real life-saver."

Care home operators and local authorities warn new regulations will have significant cost implications.

They argue higher prices will need financial support from the public purse.

Chief executive of Scottish Care, a representative organisation for the care industry, Joe Campbell echoed this call.

He said: "Sprinklers, to the uninitiated, seem to be the answer, but believe me they are not.

"What we want to do is lean on the government and say, think about this very carefully, look who's going to pay for it?

"We're in a situation where underfunding in the industry is absolutely in crisis."

BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley
"Fire sprinklers not only preserve life but prevent property damage"

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In Pictures: Nursing home fire
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31 Jan 04  |  Scotland

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