A new code of practice in relation to assessing the fire risk posed by external walls and cladding of multi-occupancy residential buildings has been set out by BSI.

The PAS 9980:2022 code addresses the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing blocks of flats. It has been developed in support of the alterations to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that the Fire Safety Act 2021 has brought about.

new code of practice for fire risk

Who is expected to make use of the code?

It is intended that the code will be used by fire engineers and other competent building professionals when they are carrying out fire risk assessments of external walls.

In addition, however, it is anticipated that the assessment’s key outputs will be useful to those for whom such appraisals are undertaken, such as building owners, premises managers, managing agents, landlords and fire risk assessors.

What is contained within the code of practice?

The standard outlines a methodology that can be scaled up or down in accordance with individual buildings’ complexity.

A five-step risk assessment process will help to identify risk factors, the given building’s overall risk rating being addressed, as well as mitigation measures that may help improve the risk rating.

A fire risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW) is performed in order to assess the risk posed to occupants by a fire spreading over or within a building’s external walls. It is also during this process that the decision is made as to whether, due to the circumstances surrounding the specific building, it is necessary to put in place remediation or other mitigating measures to help lower the risk.

BSI has said that PAS 9980 applies where risk is known or suspected to arise – for instance, as a result of combustible materials being present on-site.

In the words of a BSI spokesperson: “The outcome of an FRAEW is intended to inform fire risk assessments of multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings and other types of building, including student accommodation, sheltered and other specialised housing and buildings converted into flats, where the evacuation strategy will be similar in nature to a purpose-built block of flats.”

Also contained within the new code of practice is advice on the competency of professionals carrying out such assessments. The code also aims to increase the number of competent professionals by providing information on fire risk arising from a range of aspects of wall construction.

What will the new code of practice mean for you?

The code of practice, which is sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, as well as by the Home Office, does not change the obligations of those undertaking building work on external wall construction. It also doesn’t impact on the compliance of previous building work, whether this is measured against contractual obligations or Building Regulations.

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