PAS 9980 cladding

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 has been developed to support the changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 brought about by the Fire Safety Act 2021, which provides for the fire performance of exterior walls and cladding to be a material consideration.

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 by a steering group of experts in construction, fire, housing and safety. It is for use by fire engineers and other competent building professionals when undertaking a fire risk appraisal of external walls, but it is expected that the key outputs of the appraisal 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 to conduct and record fire risk appraisals of external walls, which can be scaled up or down depending upon the complexity of individual buildings. It uses a five-step risk assessment process to assist in the identification of risk factors influencing the overall risk rating of a building, as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating. Not all buildings will require an appraisal, and of those that do, not all will require intrusive inspection.

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, in the specific circumstances of the building, remediation or other mitigating measures to address the risk are considered necessary.

According to BSI, PAS 9980 applies where the risk is known or suspected to arise from the form of construction used for the external wall build up, such as the presence of combustible materials. “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,” says BSI.

Competency

The code of practice also gives recommendations on the competency of professionals completing such appraisals, and aims to help increase the number of competent professionals by providing the knowledge on fire risk arising from various aspects of external wall construction.

Where home and building owners are faced with external wall construction which does not meet the expected standards, PAS 9980 provides a methodology for assessing the level of safety. It also identifies the proportionate steps that could be taken to better safeguard residents, while seeking not to expose them to high costs.

The code of practice does not alter the obligations placed on those carrying out building work on external wall construction, nor does it affect the compliance of past building work, whether measured against Building Regulations or contractual obligations.

The standard is sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Home Office.

Download PAS 9980 free of charge.