Update - In March 2021, the BSI released the following statement:
“BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, is temporarily suspending PAS 79-2: 2020 Fire risk assessment, Housing, Code of practice and has removed it from sale. The suspension of the voluntary code of practice is pending a further review by the steering group, which is made up of experts in fire safety, fire risk assessment and the housing sector.
“As new information emerges from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the government’s response to it, BSI wishes the Steering Group to consider these and have the opportunity to take them into account before reaching consensus on the guidance and recommendations in the code. BSI would like the Steering Group to re-visit points raised during the public consultation relevant to persons with a disability and intends to further consult with experts in this field.”
In December 2020, the British Standards Institution (BSI), revised the Fire Risk Assessment Standard, also known as PAS 79.
The standard was released in two parts:
- PAS 79-1: Fire Risk Assessment – Part 1: Premises other than housing
- PAS 79-2: Fire Risk Assessment – Part 2: Housing
PAS 79 was last revised in 2012.
What is a fire risk assessment?
You need to carry out and record the results of a fire risk assessment if you own rental properties or own a business with more than five employees.
A fire risk assessment allows you to identify hazards in a building and ensures that building occupants can exit the building safely and quickly in the case of a fire.
The changes to PAS 79
There are several key changes to the new code of practice. These include.
- PAS 79 has been split into two separate documents, one for housing and one for other buildings. This is because the housing sector wanted more housing-specific information, especially in light of tragic incidents like the Grenfell fire. As a result of this, PAS 79-2 focuses on buildings including blocks of flats, HMOs, sheltered housing and supported housing.
- PAS 79 is now a code of practice rather than a guidance document. This means it is a recognised interpretation of how organisations need to comply with the law. Conversely, guidance has no legal standing
- There is additional guidance on external wall construction and cladding, as well as fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats
- There is a greater emphasis placed on the competency of fire risk assessors. In the past few years, there have been many high-profile news stories with a focus on fire risk assessors that have not provided suitable and sufficient assessments
- The document discusses the ‘Stay Put’ strategy, which is often adopted in purpose-built flats when there is a fire. This is when residents not in an area directly impacted by fire should stay inside their flat until told to leave
Make sure your building is protected
If you are looking for an external provider to carry out your fire risk assessment, whether it is for housing or a place of business, they need to be aware of the changes to PAS 79.
At Hawkesworth, our fire assessors are fully qualified and aware of all changes to legislation.
This means you can be confident your fire risk assessment will keep your building and most importantly its occupants, safe.