Reasons for the Mac fire

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Student project and building structure found as causes to blaze at Mackintosh Building

A segment of the official report compiled by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in the wake of the May 2014 fire that raged through the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art has been released to the public. The school in currently undertaking a review of its policies and procedures which will be informed by the conclusions of this investigation.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service report states that the fire started in Studio 19 where a student was working on an exhibition piece formed of high expansion foam panels and a wall-mounted projector. At the time the fire started, gaps between the foam panels were being filled using a canister of expanding foam.

The fire started when flammable gases were discharged in close proximity to the projector, being drawn into the cooling fan and ignited. Having burned through the plastic casing of the projector, the fire then ignited the foam on the wall directly behind it, soon reaching ceiling level.

Burning through the timber panelling of the walls in Studio 19, the fire entered voids in the walls through which it travelled throughout the building causing widespread damage. The Mackintosh Library was heavily affected given the volume of flammable materials within the space, including timber furniture, panelling and books.

The fire was able to take hold of the building using timber-lined walls and voids as well as the original ventilation ducts which ran horizontally and vertically through the building. These ducts included brick-lined, timber and sheet metal versions. A vertical service void ran the entire length of the building and acted like a chimney during the fire. A fire suppression system was in the process of being installed at the time but was not operational.

The school has embarked upon the appointment of a design team for the restoration (see tender here) with the hope that the school will be fully functioning by 2018/19.

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United Kingdom

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