A Five Step Assessment to Categorising Risk

The PAS 9980 guidance document runs to 178 pages, and it aims to set out a process for assessing what level of risk an external wall has.  There are basically five steps to assessment under PAS 9980:

  • Step 1:  Assess whether a detailed assessment is required
  • Step 2:  Gather the existing necessary information
  • Step 3:  Identify and group factors that are considered significant to the risk range
  • Step 4:  Consider each group of risks to arrive at an overall risk rating
  • Step 5:  Review against risk benchmarking criteria to determine the outcome

Under the PAS 9980 framework the methodology will result in a building being considered as either low, medium or high risk.

For a building that is deemed low risk there will be no remediation necessary.  If a building receives a medium risk rating the building owner could decide (subject to receiving professional advice) to take no action and consider the external wall make-up as just part and parcel of the residual risk that a particular building has.  For high risk rated buildings remediation will be necessary and / or carrying out of other mitigating works to combat the risks identified.


Life Safety & Building Collateral Protection

Fire risk assessors will apply the PAS 9980 methodology to assess the risk to life.  Therefore, it follows that the responsibility of the fire engineers and assessors is to ensure that in a fire emergency the risk to injury and of loss of life is reduced as low as reasonably possible.  However, from a building insurance perspective an insurance provider may still require actions which might include remediation, even where the PAS 9980 assessment has arrived at a medium / tolerable level of risk.  

In these circumstances and although the risk to life could be categorised as acceptable, from a “total-loss of asset” perspective, the situation may not be acceptable to insurers.  This might lead to the removal of insurance cover or a steep increase in premiums if actions are not taken to reduce or remove their perceived risk concerns.  It is also possible that the residual asset value of the building and individual flats might also be affected due to the perceived risk from insurers if no remediation action is taken.


How Can Harris Associates Help?

We offer fire risk assessors, fire engineers, building owners and property managers a range of services that help speed up the process of assessment whilst ensuring that the information upon which assessments will be made is accurate and reliable.  We have a dedicated façade and compliance team, comprising of qualified façade engineers and chartered building surveyors that are experienced in forensic investigation and on-site intrusive survey work.  We can complete stages 1 and 2 of the five-stage assessment process completely in-house.  Stage 1 and 2 is often the most time consuming.  We provide a full package of information that fire risk assessors and fire engineers can use to complete their PAS 9980 assessment.  As importantly, as part of our stage 1 and 2 services, we are also able to identify those buildings where the full weight of the PAS 9980 is unnecessary.  This leads to a reduction in fire engineering and assessment expense and time.

If required we can also facilitate stage 3, 4 and 5 through our fire engineering partners and panel of approved consultants, providing a one-stop shop regarding PAS9980.  Our inherent knowledge of building construction, linked with our façade expertise and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the statute and related standards gives us the ability to provide all round and flexible consultancy advice.  As a RICS regulated firm we are committed to act with impartiality and transparency, and therefore proportionately as experts.