Fire risk assessments: how often must they be done?
There are no specific time periods in law for how often fire risk assessments must be carried out or reviewed....
22nd July 2021
The government has announced that EWS1 forms will no longer be needed for buildings lower than 18 metres. This move will help leaseholders in medium and low-rise blocks of flats with cladding to sell or remortgage their homes without needing an External Wall Survey (EWS).
The announcement follows new advice – commissioned by government – from fire safety experts which makes clear that there is no systemic risk of fire in medium and low-rise blocks of flats. The advice states that fire risks should be managed wherever possible through measures such as alarm systems or sprinklers, and that the overwhelming majority of these buildings (those under 18m) with cladding should not require expensive remediation.
Following the advice, HSBC UK, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group have committed to review their practices; and others have said that the expert report and government statement paves the way for EWS1 forms to no longer be required for buildings below 18 metres.
The intervention is designed to reduce needless and costly remediation in these buildings and is part of wider efforts to restore balance to the market, helping flat owners to buy, sell, or re-mortgage homes. The move has been backed by the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Institution of Fire Engineers.
There is a legal duty on the Responsible Person for all purpose-built blocks of flats to have an up-to-date fire risk assessment. Moving forward, where the Responsible Person has identified fire safety issues, they should update their fire risk assessments to determine any actions required. This could include measures such as installing sprinklers or alarms and in exceptional cases, remediation to ensure buildings are safe and people feel safe.
To help with this, new guidance for the risk assessment of external wall systems will be introduced. The PAS9980 will ensure that fire risk assessments are consistent, proportionate to risk and actions to manage risk are cost-effective, and the Consolidated Advice Note will be withdrawn.
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