BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has published a new code of practice for the fire-risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing multistorey and multi-occupied residential buildings.
It has been developed primarily to support the upcoming changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, which will confirm that the fire performance of external cladding systems is a material consideration.
The code, PAS 9980:2021, Fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing blocks of flats – Code of practice, has been developed by a steering group1 of experts in the fields of construction, fire, housing and safety. It is for use by fire engineers and other competent building professionals when undertaking a fire-risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW).
The standard sets out a methodology to conduct and record fire-risk appraisals of external walls, which can be scaled up or down depending upon the complexity of individual buildings. It uses a five-step risk-assessment process to assist in the identification of risk factors influencing the overall risk rating of a building, as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating. Not all buildings will require an appraisal, and of those that do, not all will require intrusive inspection.
It also gives recommendations for the competence of professionals completing such appraisals. The standard aims to assist with the ongoing effort to increase the number of competent professionals, by providing the knowledge on fire risk arising from various aspects of external wall construction.
Where homeowners and building owners are faced with external wall construction that does not meet the expected standards, PAS 9980 provides a methodology for assessing the level of safety. It also identifies the proportionate steps that could be taken to better safeguard residents while seeking not to expose them to undue financial burdens.
The standard does not alter the obligations placed upon those carrying out building work on external wall construction, nor does it affect the compliance of past building work, whether measured against Building Regulations or contractual obligations.
The standard is sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office.
1. Steering group members represent: Building Research Establishment; Construction Products Association; Consumer and Public Interest Network; Fire Industry Association; Institution of Fire Engineers; Local Authority Building Control; London Fire Brigade; Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; National Fire Chiefs Council; National Social Housing Fire Safety Group; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; Scottish Government; and Society of Façade Engineering.