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November 27, 2020

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High-rise buildings

FIA online portal for EWS-1 forms goes live

Designed to overcome some of the challenges in creating a consistent process for the uploading and retrieval of EWS-1 forms, the FIA has developed a portal to provide a central, accessible and reliable location for the forms. In addition, fire engineers and surveyors can now complete the forms online for the first time. With the portal now live, the Association explains how this will make life easier for the fire safety sector.

Valuation and home survey processes were previously insufficient to establish whether or not external cladding on high rise buildings (classified as those over 18m in height) contains combustible material and therefore would facilitate the spread of fire.

Following the Grenfell tragedy and subsequent Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) guidance, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) along with UKF (UK Finance) and BSA (Building Societies Association) developed so-called EWS-1 forms as a means of enabling competent fire experts to assess whether these buildings are fire safe and if not, to identify whether remedial work needs to be carried out.

The provision of EWS-1 forms has proved successful in creating a clear and consistent means by which the market understands the documentation required to support the buying, selling or re-mortgaging of properties in high rise buildings. While the EWS-1 form has been downloaded from the RICS web site over 8,000 times, there remain some key issues to be resolved in order to create a fully reliable and accessible process for the upload and retrieval of these forms.

The FIA has stepped in to meet this requirement. In consultation with MHCLG and in collaboration with RICS and other stakeholders including lenders and insurers, it has developed a unique portal which will provide a central readily-accessible location for EWS-1 forms and, for the first time, the ability for fire engineers to complete the forms on-line.

EWS1 Application Portal access is available here! 

This meets an increasingly urgent need for property sellers and buyers, insurers and mortgage lenders to easily access for free and in one specific location the information they need in order for transactions involving properties in high rise buildings to proceed as normal post-Grenfell. It is also set to help identify any remedial actions that must be taken on these buildings in respect of external cladding.

Of particular importance is the need to prevent fraudulent activity relating to EWS-1 forms. which regrettably has been identified in the market and which can place lives at risk. A rigorous approach has been applied to the portal to include manual checks at various stages of the process.

Each engineer wishing to submit forms must present evidence that they are fully qualified and competent to do so and this is interrogated prior to enabling their forms to be submitted to the portal. In addition, all existing forms and online submissions are subject to further checks to determine their validity before they appear as publicly-available documents.

In this way, the FIA would expect to eliminate the problem of fraudulent EWS-1 forms appearing in the market.

The FIA has fully-funded this portal and has employed software specialists to create an effective, efficient and user-friendly site that has been approved by the RICS Forum. The portal is now active and enables signatories to EWS-1 forms to register to submit these forms. Within a few days as initial registrations are checked and approved, signatories will be able to submit EWS-1 forms and these will shortly appear on the portal again once these are checked and approved. Forms that are uploaded will then be available for viewing and download free of charge.

Registration and uploading of EWS1 forms will cost a small fee to cover the validating work involved, but access to them by the public will be free.

Find out more information on the portal, here, or by emailing [email protected].

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Access new fire safety expertise by downloading the free Barbour Director's Briefing, and learn how to create a 'carefully devised plan of action' to make your fire strategy more comprehensive than ever. In this free Director’s Briefing, Barbour EHS provides key information relating to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, including what is required from the responsible person of a property.

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