The government recently approved the PAS (publicly accessible specification) 9980: assessment of fire risk and assessment of external wall construction and cladding for existing blocks of flats. This new code provides guidance for people undertaking fire risk assessment (FRAA). It was developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to help landlords, and building owners in the United Kingdom solve their problems.
Key Takeaways From The PAS 9980
Firefighters and other competent building professionals can use PAS9980 to provide guidance for conducting fire risk assessments. This standard aims to improve industry consistency.
The document also includes recommendations to assess the competency of professionals performing the FRAEW. This ensures that only qualified personnel can perform assessments like these.
The PAS 9980 is a five-step guide that helps identify risk factors and provides guidelines for steps to improve a building’s safety rating.
This is the most current code of best practice. It helps to categorise buildings into one of three risk outcomes—medium-risk, high-risk, or low-risk. The Fire Risk Assessments of External Walls requires that the responsible person categorises the building according to any of these categories, based on its fire performance.
A fire expert will be required to identify what actions are needed to improve the fire performance and fire efficiency of buildings deemed high-risk.
The PAS 9980 was to clarify what the Consolidated Advice Note meant. It said any building of any height had to have an EWS1 certificate.
It states: This PAS addresses potential fire spread on external walls of a multi-storey block of flats of any height, not only those over 18m. While in many years of supporting guidance to building regulations, more stringent fire performance is also specified for buildings of higher heights than for buildings under 18m.
According to PAS9980, balconies have been divided into three groups:
- The ones that fall within the curtilage portion of the building structures;
- Those that extend beyond the main building structure but take advantage of an extension on the floor slab;
- Those that extend beyond its primary structure and are fixed to an exterior wall of the building.
No matter which category your balcony falls into, you need to evaluate all materials used in lining the balcony. Assessing their role in contributing to the potential spread of external fire is also vital.
PAS 9980 says that combustible balconies could be a significant complicating issue that will be considered when categorising buildings as low risk, moderate risk, high risk, or high. Non-combustible ones must replace combustible materials such as composite decking or timber.
Implications And Uses Of The PAS9980
The industry had hoped that PAS 9980 could reduce the building scope and clarify the Consolidated Advice Note that stated that multi-occupancy buildings with any height would require EWS1 evaluation. The PAS 9980, however, does not allow for this. This means that both mortgage lenders and professional indemnity coverage providers could continue practising the same methods, leaving building owners and leaseholders in an awkward position.
Do you have damaged balconies? Facade Consultants can help even if you don’t know what to do. Please get in touch with our technical or sales team to book an initial conversation call. FR Consulting guarantees you will receive honest, objective, and impartial advice. No recommendation will be made that is not in your best interests. Our mission is to make balconies safer places. This drives all we do.