What Does PAS9980 Mean For the UK’s Firefighting Industry?

Although many buildings are now entirely remediated or stripped of deficient cladding or equipped with new fire and evacuation systems for the long-term, it has been a long time since the government had a clear strategy. This was finally achieved with the Fire Safety Act 2020, which gave us direction, and now PAS9980 shows us how to get there. Although it isn’t perfect, and many questions remain to be answered about the system, it is a good start.

What Does PAS9980 Mean?

PAS9980 is a new code in England and Wales that specifies how fire risk assessments should be conducted for all buildings with multiple occupations. You should conduct fire risk assessments for at least two units. It describes how to clad multi-story buildings. It also defines what is and is not fit for purpose. FSA 2021/PAS 9980’s primary purpose is to close the loophole created by Grenfell, which left external walls beyond fire risk assessments.

This code was created by a government-appointed steering team of experts from the fields of construction, fire, housing, and safety. It is only intended to be used by certified fire engineers or similarly qualified building professionals undertaking a fire risk evaluation of external walls. It governs not only the materials used but also the installation methods and how it interacts.

PAS9980 provides a 5-step assessment procedure to assist the assessor in identifying all risk factors and assigning a risk rating for the building. The guidance can be scaled to fit the needs of individual buildings. Although it is unnecessary for all buildings, an external assessment is recommended. To resolve any issues, the assessor can outline the steps that could or should be taken to correct the building.

Finally, and most importantly, PAS9980 provides clear guidance on the qualifications and competence required of individuals to conduct proper and fit assessments under the new rules. This is an essential cog in rebuilding trust and firefighter safety. However, it presents challenges because it emphasises the shortage of qualified people. It will take years to address, even with increased training and CPD. FR Consulting can help you with all the detailed views about PAS9980.

The Problems Facing PAS 9999

Millions of people still live in blighted buildings in the UK nearly five years after Grenfell. Many have taken on their developers and managers in court. A lot is riding on PAS9980’s ability for things to get moving.

Buildings that were high risk according to the CAN might no longer be considered dangerous by the PAS 9980 guidance. However, having every building reprised and removed from the danger zone could take months or even years. While it is less likely than not, it is possible for buildings that were previously considered safe to be placed on the ‘at danger’ list under the new guidelines.

Even the decision of whether an external FRA should be done is subjective. This means you might need to hire an experienced expert to prove that an expert is unnecessary. This will depend upon many factors like the age of a building, its cladding, installation method, and the wall’s construction.

Then, there is the issue of what would make a building ‘at-risk’. Although defective cladding has been identified in most buildings, it must still be properly and professionally installed even though the cladding may not be combustible. This could be as costly as replacing the defective cladding.

Summary

Although PAS9980 is welcomed, most of the problems it presents can be overcome by clarification and consultation. However, the biggest obstacle to success in this area is the constant shortage of qualified personnel to monitor and enforce it. Only five to six UK companies can offer an extensive external fire risk assessment Facade Consultants is one.

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