What is it?
On 19 January this year, Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 9980: 2022 came into effect and, with its publication, the Government withdrew its Consolidated Advice Note which set out key fire safety risks, potential risks and the measures that building owners should take in relation to cladding and fire safety of multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings
A PAS is a fast-track standardisation document developed in conjunction with industry experts and led by the British Standards Institution (BSI). They set industry wide standards to be adhered to where there is an immediate public need.
What does it do?
The PAS has been developed with the upcoming changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in mind and has widened the scope of risk assessments.
PAS 9980:2022 provides recommendations and sets out guidelines for the carrying out of fire risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW) of existing multi-storey and multi occupied residential buildings and is intended for use by fire engineers and other professionals with the necessary expertise to carry out a FRAEW. It also gives recommendations as to the competence of those completing appraisals.
The key findings of the FRAEW are intended to inform a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA). A FRA, which covers the shared areas of a building, is a legal requirement and it is the duty of whoever is responsible for a building to identify fire risks and take appropriate steps. The assessment also considers the general fire precautions (e.g. fire doors, escape routes) in place that must protect those in or near the building.
The person responsible for the assessment of a building must review the FRA regularly to ensure it is up to date, particularly if they suspect it may no longer be valid or where there has been a significant change that could affect the original outcome. It is a criminal offence for any responsible person not to comply with the requirement.
Where an external wall construction does not meet the required standards, the PAS provides guidance for assessing its level of safety and identifies proportionate steps that may be taken to safeguard residents.
This new guidance is intended to assist with the backlog of leaseholders currently unable to sell flats in high rise buildings due to confusion over cladding issues and the Government hopes that it will “restore common sense to the assessment of building safety”.
According to BSI, the PAS does not alter the obligations placed upon those carrying out building work on external wall construction. It is also not a measure of compliance of past building work in relation to Building Regulations or contractual obligations.
What about the EWS1 Form?
PAS 9980:2022 is not an alternative to the EWS1 form, which is used for valuation purposes and is administered by RICS.
The EWS1 is not a legal requirement, but may be required when selling/re-mortgaging leasehold flats in multi-storey buildings.