A fire suppression system was close to being activated when fire tore through the Glasgow School of Art earlier this month, according to a trade body.
The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association said huge pumps needed for the water mist system had arrived on site the day before the blaze.
But the body said it would have taken weeks to complete the installation.
The iconic Mackintosh building was gutted by the blaze a week ago last Friday.
Keith MacGillivray, chief executive of the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, told BBC Scotland: "The pumps for the fire suppression system were there at the school of art the day before the fire.
"They are very large pumps so they were delivered in component parts.
"It would have taken some weeks to reassemble the pumps and connect up the pipe work and obviously the water tanks would have had to be connected and put in place as well.
"Everything would also would have had to be tested thoroughly before being made operational."
Building control officers have warned people to stay away from the site of the art school fire.
They revealed concerns about the end walls of the building, which could fall into the street "without warning".
Local residents have expressed anger and frustration at being unable to return to their homes since a safety cordon was put in place in the vicinity of the building.
Some claimed there had been a lack of communication from the council and other bodies over when they might be able to go back.
Michael Argent, who lives close to the art school, said: "The most difficult thing is not knowing how long it is going to be."
Another local resident, Christopher Bowen, said: "It is beyond frustrating because the communication has been awful. We have more or less been left to our own devices."
A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "This has been an incredibly difficult situation for businesses and residents and the fact that there is no real change in the information we're able to give them is incredibly frustrating for people.
"We've so far been able to find accommodation for everyone who has told us they need it.
"However, people's circumstances change regularly and if they find themselves becoming effectively homeless then they can meet with our staff who are based in the dental hospital or call our helpline on 0141 287 0416.
"Unfortunately what people really need is to get back into their homes and at this point there is simply no way to estimate when the very real danger to life and limb will have passed."