The purpose of this Advice Note is to assist in determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems in existing multi-storey residential buildings.

This will require a fire safety risk assessment and, in some cases, an intrusive appraisal of the external wall system. The aim of both is to ensure that people are not placed at undue risk of harm as a result of fire spread over or within the external wall system. This Advice Note is concerned with life safety.

For the purpose of this Advice Note, an external wall system includes the external wall cladding system (including cavity barriers and any insulation material behind the outer cladding), spandrel panels, window infill panels, balconies, solar shading, and any other architectural feature or attachment to the external building structure. The main body of this Note deals with cladding systems and Annex 1 contains information on other external wall system features.

This Advice Note is for all those involved in determining the fire risk posed by external wall systems in multi-storey residential buildings. It is structured so that:

Part 1 (General Advice) will be of particular interest to those with responsibility for fire safety, such as building owners (including individual flat owners in privately owned/mixed tenure blocks of domestic flats), employers, building managers, and others.

Part 2 (Technical Advice) will be of particular interest to those who undertake fire safety risk assessments and appraisals. Only suitably qualified professionals with the right skills, qualifications, experience, knowledge, and behaviours should undertake such work.

This Advice Note applies to existing multi-storey residential premises of two or more storeys (including residential premises contained within “mixed-use” buildings), for example:

• Blocks of domestic flats (including sheltered, extra care and supported flats).

• Student accommodation (including halls of residence).

• Hospitals or other premises with overnight patient accommodation.

• Care homes.

• Hotels and hostels.

• Prisons.

Determining the risk to life from the spread of fire on external wall systems is just one element which needs to be considered as part of a fire safety risk assessment. The assessment is a wide-ranging exercise which involves a methodical and holistic consideration of all fire hazards and risks which impact on life safety. Existing fire safety measures must be evaluated and a judgement made on whether they are adequate or if more needs to be done to ensure the safety of people from fire.