The new Publicly Available Specification for fire risk assessments in multi-occupancy buildings with external cladding has been published, meaning it’s now in force. The PAS, developed by BSI following a rigorous consultation process, replaces the Consolidated Advice Note and closes a perceived loophole pre-Grenfell that blocks with external cladding didn’t need to be assessed and may have been able to avoid any remedial work.
The five-step PAS9980 Survey provides a methodology for competent building professionals to follow when conducting and recording a Fire Risk Assessment of the External Walls (FRAEW). It sets out a process which is designed to support an overall risk rating and identifies preventive measures to mitigate the risks to life. In doing so, it aims to improve the quality and consistency of FRAEWs, whilst also identifying where the current approach is insufficient.
DL: What is the relationship between the PAS9980 Survey and the EWS1 Form?
A statutory report, called an EWS1 Form, is required by valuers for mortgage valuations on buildings with the specified cladding system. It is also required for high-rise residential buildings when they undergo a change of use. RICS have been developing a standardised EWS1 form since January 2021 to help valuers and lenders understand the risk of the building’s external wall systems, and it has recently been announced that Government funding will be used to train more surveyors who can carry out assessments and complete the required forms.
This is good news for landlords, residents and their families as the survey will give them clarity as to whether they are at a low or tolerable risk, and if any remedial works are required. However, there are concerns about the number of people who will be qualified to undertake the surveys and write the reports. It is possible that there could be a ‘gold rush’ where unqualified people will jump on the bandwagon and try to capitalise on this urgent requirement. It would be better if there was third-party accreditation of the assessors, similar to what RICS did with their EWS1 form, to attract the right people and stop the unscrupulous.
We expect the PAS9980 Survey to be a popular choice amongst our clients and building owners. It will allow them to demonstrate that their buildings are at a low or tolerable level of risk and will help them avoid the expensive, disruptive and unnecessary remedial works that can sometimes be required by the Fire Safety Act’s requirements. This is in line with the Government’s aim of reducing costs and improving the experience for those affected by the fire and their homes. We will be working with a range of specialist surveyors and contractors to provide our customers with a comprehensive and competitive service. If you would like to know more about our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We look forward to hearing from you.