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Nurses' Home (Kirkcaldy)

Volume 13: debated on Thursday 19 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the fire at a nurses' home in Kirkcaldy on 13 November; if he is satisfied that all fire precautions had been taken; if he will institute a public inquiry into the accident; and what provisions there are for compensation for those injured or killed.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what inquiries have taken place or are to be undertaken to establish the causes of the fire in the nurses' home at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy; why the fire led to the death of Morag Goodall and the injury of 17 other nurses and two firemen; and if the evidence established in, and the conclusions of, these inquiries will be made public.

An alarm call from within the nurses' home at the Victoria hospital, Kirkcaldy, was received by Fife fire brigade headquarters at three minutes to 1 am on 13 November. The fire brigade arrived at the scene at one minute to 1 am and further appliances were summoned at once.There were 57 occupants in the building at the time of the fire, of whom 37 escaped unaided. Others were assisted to escape by the fire brigade or dropped to the ground from windows. One nurse died, and another is very seriously ill in hospital and still in a critical condition. Three other nurses were seriously injured but their condition is fairly comfortable. 22 other nurses and two firemen were also treated for less serious injuries. I am sure the House will wish to join me in expressing sympathy to the relatives of the nurse who died and to all those who received injuries in this tragic accident.Until the full facts have been established it is clearly not possible to say that all fire precautions had been taken; but these are matters to which the health board and its officers have given careful attention; and the home's fire precautions installations at the time of the fire consisted of the recommended provision of fire escapes, stairways, fire and smoke stop doors, fire fighting appliances and manually operated break glass electrical fire warning system. The premises were last inspected by the fire brigade on 17 December 1980, when they were found to be in order. An inspection was scheduled for December this year. The building had been speedily evacuated following a false alarm on the 27 October; and there was a practice fire drill when the building was again evacuated on the 11 November.The procurator fiscal is conducting urgent inquiries and in the light of his report my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate will determine whether a fatal accident inquiry should be set up under the Fatal Accident and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act of 1976. Such an inquiry would be conducted by the sheriff, with full powers to compel witnesses and to take into account all matters which might have a bearing on the cause of death.As regards compensation, consideration will be given to the payment of benefits, as appropriate, to those affected, under the National Health Service (Scotland) (Injury Benefits) Regulations 1974 and the National Health Service (Superannuation) (Scotland) Regulations 1980.