A Five-Step Assessment to Categorising Risk
The PAS 9980 guidance document is 178 pages long and aims to set out a process for assessing the level of risk an external wall has. There are 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: Identity 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 either low, medium, or high risk.
For a building deemed low risk, no remediation will be necessary. If a building receives a medium risk rating, the building owner could decide (subject to professional advice) to take no action and consider the external wall makeup 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 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 of injury and of loss of life is reduced to as low as reasonably possible. However, from a building insurance perspective, an insurance provider may still require actions that 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 have the in-house expertise to carry out FRAEWs in line with the PAS 9980. We have a dedicated façade and compliance team, led by an experienced chartered engineer, comprising qualified façade technicians, engineers, and chartered building surveyors that are experienced in forensic investigation and on-site intrusive survey work. We also work with a number of fire engineers who sense check our output and sign off accordingly.
We are also able to identify those buildings where the full weight of the PAS 9980 is unnecessary. In these circumstances, we can provide a Statement of Non-Combustibility.
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 acting with impartiality and transparency, and therefore proportionately as experts.