Art School Firefighters Honoured

6 June 2014, 05:28 | Updated: 6 June 2014, 05:33

Firefighters who saved the historic Glasgow School of Art from destruction in a blaze have been honoured with an award from the design community.

The Scottish Design Awards have paid a special tribute to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for saving the A-listed Charles Rennie Mackintosh building and salvaging so much of the precious artwork inside.

Around 200 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze at its height last month, and the fire service has been widely praised after crews salvaged almost all of the structure.

The fire destroyed the library in the historic building, and many students lost artwork.

Assistant chief officer Dave Boyle, the director of service delivery for the West of Scotland, says: ''On behalf of SFRS I would like to say thank you for this recognition of our crews. It's easy to overlook the huge challenge that faced our crews.

''The Mackintosh is a world renowned building but it was never designed to slow down fire and features like hidden voids allow flames to move from one point to another extremely quickly.

''Fighting the fire from both inside and outside the building gave us the best chance of stopping the flames and the early decisions made by our crews and incident commanders proved crucial.''

When fire crews left the campus a week after the blaze students from the Glasgow School of Art gave them a heroes' send off, forming a guard of honour to send them on their way.

The Scottish Design Awards, organised by The Drum, took place last night at the Radisson Hotel in Glasgow.

Lynn Lester, managing director of the Scottish Design Awards, says: ''We were delighted to present on behalf of the community and profession, a special tribute to the brave men and woman of the Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service in acknowledgement of their heroic efforts, in the face of grave personal danger, to save the Mackintosh Building from certain destruction.

''The quick wittedness and bravery evidenced on that day prevented this terrible loss from becoming a national calamity and is an inspiration to all.''

The institution is one of Europe's leading art schools, while the listed Mackintosh-designed building is a tourist attraction in its own right and one of Scotland's most ''iconic'' structures.

Work started on the building in 1897, taking 10 years to complete. More than a century later, it still operates as a working building serving hundreds of students.