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The government has announced some changes in the way that residential buildings are assessed. Previous guidance, the Consolidated Advice Note, has been withdrawn and replaced by PAS9980.

PAS 9980 – which is short for - Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall Construction and Cladding of Existing Blocks of Flats – Code of Practice 2022 – gives assessors a framework to follow to assess the risk posed by an external wall in a block of flats. It's a document code of practice, commissioned by the government and developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI).

PAS 9980 outlines an assessment process for a qualified professional to complete and record a Fire Risk Appraisal of External Wall (FRAEW). They will decide if mitigation steps are needed to reduce risk and protect residents.

Will PAS 9980 replace EWS1 forms?

No. An EWS1 form is for valuation purposes only.

An EWS1 form is a set way for a building owner to confirm to valuers and lenders that the external wall cladding system has been assessed by a fire safety engineer, who is a member of a recognised body, such as the Institute of Fire Safety Engineers. This is not a legal requirement and owners of buildings do not have to provide them.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment of External Walls?

The purpose of a fire risk assessment of external walls (FRAEW) is to assess the risk to residents from a fire spreading over or within the external walls of a building. It will also decide whether, in the specific circumstances of the building, remediation or other fire safety measures (to address the risk) are needed. The FRAEW will accompany the regular FRA to confirm the building's complete fire safety.

How will I know if my building needs a Fire Risk Assessment of External Walls?

The Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) will determine if your building needs a FRAEW. It is a legal requirement that external walls are carefully considered within the FRA of any residential building.

FRAs are required to be carried out by landlords to establish what they need to do to prevent fire and keep residents safe. The frequency of these depends on the risk factor for your building. Visit our frequently asked questions about Fire Risk Assessments for more information.

Examples of buildings where a Fire Risk Assessment of External Walls is not needed are:

  • The external wall construction is confirmed as traditional masonry (i.e., external walls which comprise either two leaves of masonry or a solid masonry leaf)
  • The building was built before the 1960s
  • There is an existing building report by a qualified professional based on a relevant BS8414 test (which is a large-scale test where an external cladding system is tested for its overall fire resistance rather than just individual components)

Changes to EWS1 ratings

A qualified fire safety engineer has carried out a number of Fire Risk Appraisals of External Wall over the last few months. Based on these intrusive surveys, they have advised that some EWS1 ratings may change from a B2 to a B1. We will update customers directly to clarify their building rating.

The change in EWS1 rating is due to new government guidance on how to assess the risk of fire through the external wall of a building. PAS 9980 sets out steps that can be taken to identify and assess risk factors, as well as mitigation steps that might improve the risk rating. This is done through a holistic and fact-based assessment of the building’s construction.

This means that fire safety engineers are looking at the buildings from a more holistic approach, instead of a compliant one, under the relevant building regulations at the time of construction.

What happens if your building rating doesn’t change?

If your building stays as a B2 rating, the following options will be considered:

  • We will review the fire safety engineer recommendations.
  • If further investigation is required, we will re-inspect the building in line with the new government PAS 9980 guidance.
  • Determined by the level of remedial works, we will communicate the works and determine the next steps. This will be done in consultation with residents.

My building has a B1 rating, and the valuer wants an EWS1 Form?

We recommend you provide the valuer with a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment of External Walls, instead of the EWS1 form for their consideration..

How do I know if my building needs an EWS1 form?

Visit our dedicated website page: Frequently asked questions about EWS1 certificates, remortgaging and selling.