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....
31st January 2022
The government has withdrawn the Consolidated Advice Note.
The Consolidated Advice Note, which was issued in January 2020, provided guidance on how to assess a building’s external walls, smoke control systems and indicated the types of short-term interim measures that could be put in place if significant risks to life were identified.
The Consolidated Advice Note has been interpreted in such a way as to drive a cautious approach to building safety where all buildings with cladding are believed to require remediation irrespective of their actual height.
The Consolidated Advice Note and all supporting documents are now withdrawn and should be treated as historical reference documents.
How will external walls be assessed going forward?
Where a detailed assessment of external walls of existing multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings is deemed necessary it should now be carried out in accordance with the more comprehensive and holistic guidance included in Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 9980.
What is PAS 9980?
The PAS 9980 has been developed by the British Standards Institution drawing on expert advice from professionals across industry and followed a rigorous development process, including a public consultation.
PAS 9980 provides new guidance on how to assess the risk of fire via an external wall of an existing multi-storey, multi-occupied residential building. PAS 9980 sets out steps that can be taken to identify and assess risk factors as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating of a building via a holistic and fact-based assessment of a building’s construction.
Where it is determined that a detailed assessment of an external wall is required, PAS 9980 should now be used for these assessments.
Will every building require a PAS 9980 appraisal?
PAS 9980 is a methodology to carry out fire risk appraisals of the external wall of multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings.
Not all buildings require statutory fire risk assessments. For example, single private dwellings with no common parts are not within the scope of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.
Of buildings that do require fire risk assessments, not all will require a detailed review of their external walls. In many cases, it will be manifestly obvious to a competent fire risk assessor that the risk to life from external fire spread is not such as to warrant a PAS 9980 assessment.
This is particularly true in buildings with brick or masonry external walls or low-risk buildings which do not present any significant risk of fire spread. In these cases, the fire risk assessor will normally address compliance of external wall construction with the Fire Safety Order as part of the routine Fire Risk Assessment process.
Therefore, many buildings will not require a PAS 9980 appraisal.
Will PAS 9980 replace the EWS1 form?
PAS 9980 is not intended as an alternative to the EWS1 form, which is for valuation purposes and is administered by RICS.
In the minority of buildings where valuers deem EWS1 forms are still necessary, the government will introduce an indemnity scheme for building assessors to give them greater confidence to exercise professional judgement.
New data from lenders, also demonstrates that EWS1s are requested by lenders for fewer than 1 in 10 mortgage valuations for flats, and lenders are encouraged to continue to minimise their usage in medium and lower rise blocks.
When will PAS 9980 come into force?
The new guidance will come into effect on 19th January and will provide a five-step assessment for fire safety professionals to identify a buildings’ risk factors.