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January 26, 2022

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New code of practice for external wall fire risk assessment published

A new code of practice for the fire risk appraisal of external walls and cladding of multi-occupancy residential buildings has been published by BSI.

The code, PAS 9980:2022 Fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing blocks of flats – Code of practice, has been developed to support the changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, brought about by the Fire Safety Act 2021.

It is for use by fire engineers and other competent building professionals when undertaking a fire risk appraisal of external walls, however, it is expected that the key outputs of the assessment will also be useful to those for whom it is carried out, such as building owners, landlords, fire risk assessors, managing agents and premises managers.

The standard sets out a methodology which can be scaled up or down depending on the complexity of individual buildings.

It uses a five-step risk assessment process to assist in the identification of risk factors including the overall risk rating of a building, as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating.

The purpose of a fire risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW) is to assess the risk to occupants from a fire spreading over or within the external walls of a building, and to decide whether, due to the specific circumstances of the building, remediation, or other mitigating measures to address the risk are necessary.

According to BSI, PAS 9980 applies where risk is known or suspected to arise, for example, due to the presence of combustible materials.

A spokesperson from the BSI comments: “The outcome of an FRAEW is intended to inform fire risk assessments of multistorey, 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.”

The new code of practice also offers advice on the competency of professionals undertaking such appraisals and aims to increase the number if competent professionals by providing the knowledge on fire risk arising from various aspects of wall construction.

The code of practice, sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office, does not alter the obligations of those carrying out building work on external wall construction, nor does it affect the compliance of past building worker, whether measured against Building Regulations or contractual obligations.

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