Since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the Government’s Building Safety Programme has predominantly focussed on identifying and advising on short term interim and remedial measures for existing high-rise residential buildings with Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding, while developing wider reforms for the future building safety regulatory system.

In support of the Building Safety Programme, the Government’s Independent Expert Advisory Panel (the Expert Panel) issued advice on the measures building owners should take to review ACM and other cladding systems to assess and assure their fire safety, and the potential risks to residents of external fire spread. The Expert Panel also issued advice on other key fire safety risks that need to be managed appropriately. This was published as a Consolidated Advice Note bringing the Expert Panel’s advice together in a single document.

With the publication of PAS 9980 2022, the Government has withdrawn the consolidated advice note. It has been wrongly interpreted and has driven a cautious approach to building safety in buildings that are safe which goes beyond what the Government’s considered necessary.

PAS 9980 is a new code of practice for the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing multistorey and multi-occupied residential buildings. The code has been developed by a steering group of experts in the fields of construction, fire, housing and safety. It is for use by competent fire engineers and other competent building professionals when undertaking a fire risk appraisal of external walls (FRAEW).

The PAS 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.

It also gives recommendations for the competence of professionals completing such appraisals. The standard aims to assist with the ongoing effort to increase the number of competent professionals, by providing knowledge on fire risk arising from various aspects of external wall construction.

The PAS has been released as a free download and can be accessed here.