The Building Safety Act 2022
It will be the responsibility of the person contracting a fire risk assessor to ensure that the fire risk assessor is competent.
The fire sector federation issues current guidance on how to confirm competence and recommends either a company scheme, e.g. BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Scheme, that has been third-party verified or a professional body scheme (IFE, IFSM). This Scheme exists to deliver quality, independent evidence that providers (from sole traders through to larger organisations with appointed fire risk assessors) are competent to deliver quality fire risk assessment services.
The name of the responsible person and an address in the UK is required at which notices, and other documents can be served by enforcing authorities.
The fire alarm and fire extinguisher are also to be named.
The Fire Safety Act 2021
In the case of multi-occupied residential buildings, the Fire Safety Act puts beyond doubt that structure, external walls and flat entrance doors fall within the scope of the Fire Safety Order. The Fire Safety Act will require Responsible Persons to ensure that these elements are included in their fire risk assessments where the fire risk assessment has not already been updated to include external walls.
The Responsible Person, or competent fire risk assessor acting on their behalf, should undertake a visual inspection of the external walls.
In many cases it will be manifestly obvious through a visual inspection that the risk to life from external fire spread is not such as to warrant a PAS 9980 assessment. This is particularly true in buildings with brick or masonry external walls or low risk buildings which do not present any significant risk of fire spread. In these cases, the fire risk assessor will normally address compliance of external wall construction with the Fire Safety Order as part of the routine fire risk assessment process.
A more detailed fire risk appraisal of the external walls under PAS 9980 may be required if, for example, there is a known or suspected risk from the form of construction used for the external wall, such as the presence of combustible materials used for cladding or external wall insulation.
Where a more detailed fire risk appraisal is required the Fire Risk Assessment Prioritisation Tool may be used to determine the urgency of the inspection.
Conducting a more detailed external walls assessment
In cases where a more detailed assessment is required, a competent person should be appointed. PAS 79-2:20202 and PAS 9980 provide guidance.
Purpose of PAS 9980
PAS 9980 provides a methodology for the fire risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding in existing multi-occupied residential buildings.
Outcome of a detailed PAS 9980/external walls assessment
Where a more detailed PAS 9980 fire risk appraisal – called Fire Risk Appraisal of the External Wall system (FRAEW in PAS 9980) – is conducted it should provide the Responsible Person with recommendations on remedial action considered necessary, with a suitable time frame that takes into account both the nature of the works required for remediation and any recommended interim measures.