Since the Grenfell Tower disaster of 2017, the topic of fire safety has been at the forefront of public consciousness. As a result of public outcry and political lobbying, the PAS 79 fire risk assessment received a much-needed overhaul via the Fire Safety Act 2021, bringing about several directly effective changes in an attempt to deliver a higher level of fire safety compliance.
Whilst PAS 79:2012 was merely a guide, it is expressly stated that PAS 79:2020 is a code of practice to be stringently followed. Anyone involved with fire safety law should familiarise themselves with the new guidelines and standards.
The fallout from the Grenfell disaster saw lobbyists, housing professionals and the general public unite in the outcry for more stringent housing-centric recommendations to be implemented: the new legislation detailing specific recommendations for domestic dwellings is found in Part 2, known officially as PAS 79-2:2020.
As a result of public pressure and general empathy for the lives lost needlessly in Grenfell Tower, the PAS 79 revision was introduced.
The Purpose of Revising PAS 79
The primary purpose of the revision was to provide a specific methodology for conducting fire risk assessments so those responsible could meet their legal responsibilities via a stringent framework.
It provides a transparent approach to fire risk assessment that fosters a better understanding of fire risks by fire safety experts and the layperson alike: promoting better communication and understanding of the risks.
As an all-encompassing code of practice, PAS 79:2020 provides a determinate methodology to conduct fire risk assessments, producing basic and qualitative findings particular to a location. As the legalese states that it is now a code of practice and not merely guidance, you can take heed that requesting a fire safety consultant adheres to PAS 79 guarantees in-depth documentation detailing all fundamentals of fire safety.
As a business owner, you should know that PAS 79 applies to nearly all buildings, including:
- Blocks of Flats
- Business Premises
- Care Homes
- HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy)
Changes Brought in By PAS 97:2020
As the revision of PAS 97 outlined the intention of it being a code of practice and not a guide, it is important to acknowledge the key changes that were brought about and consider how that will affect you.
- As PAS 79-1:2020 and PAS 79-2:2020 are intended as codes of practice, the revision introduced easier readability to foster improved understanding
- Greater importance placed on the competence of fire safety assessors
- PAS 79-2:2020 details recommendations of documents required for assessing and recording significant findings from risk assessments conducted at buildings of multiple-use – such as dual residential/retail premises – where parts of that building are legally required under legislation
- Recommendation for type 2, 3 and 4 fire risk assessments to be conducted for blocks of flats, extra-care premises and sheltered accommodation
- Recommendation of installation of evacuation alarm systems in blocks of flats and maisonettes – a direct result of the Grenfell Tower disaster
As an easy to digest code of practice, the purpose behind drawing up the PAS 79 revision was to provide a framework and method of fire risk assessment that covers all bases, including the likelihood of an outbreak of fire (from very little probability to severely likely) and the level of consequence should a fire occur.
PAS 79 – 2020 Code of Practice
To conduct a PAS 79:2020 fire risk assessment, there are 9 steps to follow:
- Obtain information and all necessary data about the building: include processes that have been conducted within the structure, people who are present or likely to be present.
- Identify fire hazards and means for control and their elimination: determine scenarios or situations where fuel, heat and oxygen could mix on the assessed premise which would lead to fire – how could you eliminate, mitigate or minimise said risks?
- Assess the likelihood of any fire: assess premises to determine where and which items are more likely to produce an environment friendly to ignition and fuel.
- Determine any present fire protection measures: all previously practicable fire detection/prevention/warning measures and systems.
- Obtain related info relating to fire safety management: what other steps have been or need to be implemented to guarantee risk of fire in the building is responsibly managed?
- Assess the most likely repercussions for a person if a fire occurs: consider the number of people, their age, overall health, bodily mobility, dependents, how familiar they are with the building layout, and likely regular visitors.
- Assess the overall risk of fire Likelihood of fire occurring and severity of the damage caused by a fire that was the result of a fire hazard.
- Form and document an action plan: What is good about the premises’ current fire safety, what needs improvement and if your fire emergency evacuation plan (FEEP) is up to date
- Set the fire risk assessment review date: book regularly and whenever there is a major change to the fire risk on the premises.
Although the PAS 79 was simplified with the 2020 revisions, it may still be daunting to be sure you are conforming to the new codes of practice.
We hope that you found our guide on PAS 79:2020 useful, informative and educational. If so, there is no better time to brush up on your fire safety knowledge by reading some of our other helpful guides!