Fire Risk Assessment Update – PAS 79:2020

The tragic events of the 2017 Grenfell disaster have set wheels in motion to overhaul fire safety legislation and more clearly assign accountability to fire risk assessment.

Significant updates have been made to PAS 79 to better define fire risk assessment guidance after the housing sector called for more specific recommendations. 

The British Standards Institution previously published PAS 79:2012, which provided generic fire risk assessment guidance. However, the new standard (2020) replaced this and was renamed and restructured to focus on ‘Part 1’ along with a new, housing-specific ‘Part 2’. This means the existing PAS 79 has become the revised PAS 79-1, while the housing-specific section is now known as PAS 79-2.  

PAS 79-1:2020   

  • Now a code of practice, rather than simply a guide, for premises other than housing  
  • Provides recommendations for conducting and recording fire risk assessments (where required by law) in non-domestic properties 
  • Promotes a framework for the assessment of fire risk and promotes better understanding of fire risks and fire safety by organisations and non-fire specialists 
  • Features new guidance on external wall construction and cladding  
  • Places greater emphasis on the competency of fire risk assessors  
  • Excludes blocks of flats, sheltered housing, extra care housing, supported housing and some houses in multiple occupation 

PAS 79-2:2020 

  • Relates specifically to the conducting and recording of fire risk assessments in housing premises 
  • Presents to housing providers and their advisors a methodology which can help them meet their legislative responsibilities to undertake fire risk assessments  
  • Takes into account guidance published by the Local Government Association regarding fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats (the Scottish equivalent applies in Scotland) 
  • Takes into account guidance produced by the National Fire Chiefs Council on fire safety in specialised housing (the Scottish equivalent applies in Scotland)  
  • As with Part 1, there is new guidance on the consideration to be given to external wall construction and cladding  
  • Places greater emphasis on the competency of fire risk assessors 
  • Includes detailed discussion of the ‘stay put strategy’ in the event of a fire 
  • Includes reference to evacuation alert systems for use by the fire and rescue service in blocks of flats and maisonettes 

PAS 79:2020 is to be followed by fire safety professionals who are either responsible for one particular organisation’s fire safety or work for consultancies providing fire risk assessments as a service.

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