GLASGOW School of Art has issued a trenchant response to critical evidence heard at the Scottish Parliament about its disastrous 2018 fire.

It has submitted new material to MSPs in a bid to "address further rumours, supposition and speculation."

The school (GSA) has lodged a new document with the Culture Committee, which has been hearing opinions, evidence and expert views on the GSA's handling of the Mackintosh Building in the lead up to the devastating June fire of last year.

In January, Stephen Mackenzie, a fire safety expert and consultant, told the committee he was "puzzled" that a mist suppression system had been removed after the first Mackintosh Building fire in 2014.

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In the new document, the GSA addresses the removal of a mist suppression system following that fire, as well as other criticisms.

Fire and police investigators are still probing the cause of the second fire of last year, which destroyed the Mackintosh Building, and severely disrupted the lives of residents and businesses in the surrounding Garnethill area of Glasgow.

No cause for the June 2018 blaze has yet been publicly stated, and there has been much speculation over whether the quick-spreading fire was an accident or arson.

The board of the GSA has said it plans to rebuild the Mackintosh Building.

The GSA, apparently concerned by some of the tone and substance of evidence heard at the Committee, has submitted a new document for MSPs as supplementary evidence.

It says: "In light of other evidence received by the Committee, the GSA considers it is important that the Committee understands that the pre-2014 fire mist suppression system was not fully installed.

"This system suffered widespread damage in the fire and was in need of substantial repair before it could be operational."

The system pumps, on site but not installed, suffered "extensive water damage" and much of the mist pipework in the western part of the building was destroyed.

The remainder of the system, after that 2014 fire, was contaminated by smoke, and the document contends "it is therefore not the case that there was a 95% complete mist suppression system following the 2014 fire."

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The GSA adds: "Following expert inspection and advice, the GSA therefore decided to take advantage of advances in technology since the original system was installed by including an up to date system as part of the Mackintosh Restoration Project."

The question of a mist system, and whether one should or could have been in place during the reconstruction of the Mackintosh Building after 2014, has often been raised by experts, MSPs and others.

The GSA, in the new submission, has re-iterated its position that no system could have been in place.

The GSA said: "Further suggestions were also made during the Committee meeting that a temporary system

could have been put in the best of the GSA’s knowledge, having sought expert advice, there is no temporary fire suppression system suitable for a building and project of the scale and complexity of the Mackintosh Building and the Mackintosh Restoration Project that could have been installed during the construction period.

"It is considered that the extent of restoration works could not have been carried out with a live fire suppression system being present as it would need to have the coverage, certification and equipment equivalent to that of a permanent system.

"The significantly higher risk of accidental flooding/water damage is also likely to be too great for an insurer to accept."

It adds: "These are all reasons why it is highly unusual to have an operational fire suppression system present during construction works of this scale and complexity, as the Committee has heard from various sources. "The GSA is not aware of any example of a system that has been used that would have been relevant to the Mackintosh Restoration Project."

The arts school also takes issue with a remark by Mr Mackenzie that he did not "even see the appointment of a specialist fire engineer between 2014 and 2018”.

The document says: "However, as explained to the Committee on 15 November 2018, the GSA appointed Atelier Ten as a specialist fire engineer following the 2014 fire.

"Atelier Ten’s role continued up to the time of the 2018 fire."

The issue of "compartmentation" at the building - measures to stop fire spreading, including barriers, doors and filling voids - has also been regularly raised by experts and MSPs but the GSA again states it had done as much as it could.

It says: "Compartmentation had already been introduced where practical into the building prior to the 2014 fire.

"Further, the Mackintosh Building already met acceptable standards in relation to fire safety prior to the

2014 fire, but the GSA proactively decided to add an additional layer of protection, beyond that which is present in most historic buildings across the UK.

"In light of the professional advice received by the GSA, and other relevant factors, it is satisfied that the decision to pursue the water mist suppression system was the correct one."

The GSA adds that additional measures were added between 2014 and 2018.

They included fire doors, 24 security and an automatic fire detection system.

The scaffolding surrounding parts of the building was also covered by alarms and CCTV.

It adds: "Any suggestion that the Mackintosh Building was 'unprotected' during the Mackintosh Restoration Project is therefore not borne out by the evidence."

The GSA has also re-stated its position on the question of the money it spent on the new Reid Building in comparison to the Mackintosh Building.

It says: "Various members of the Committee have questioned why the GSA committed significant funds to the development of the Reid Building while undertaking fundraising for the costs of the mist suppression system prior to the 2014 fire.

"The Reid Building was developed as a replacement for two buildings that were no longer fit for purpose and was therefore important to the continuing educational function of the GSA."

It adds: "The Committee has acknowledged that funding for the Reid Building was provided by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

"The funding the SFC provides is restricted to the purpose for which it is provided. It was therefore not open to the GSA to divert SFC funds from the development of the Reid Building to the provision of a fire suppression system in the Mackintosh Building or to any other use."

The document also strongly rebuts a contention by Mr Mackenzie that the discovery of asbestos in the building was not a credible reason for a delay between installing a mist system and then installing it.

It says: "As Mr Mackenzie will no doubt be aware, asbestos plans, surveys and registers will often not be able to identify or anticipate all asbestos in a building, particularly for a historic building such as the Mackintosh Building."