What is PAS 79-1:2020 about?
PAS 79, which was last revised in 2012, provided generic fire risk assessment guidance. However, the housing sector wanted more housing-specific recommendations to be developed. It was therefore decided to revise PAS 79, updating the existing PAS and renaming it as Part 1, and introducing a new, housing-specific, Part 2.
Consequently, PAS 79-1:2020 gives recommendations on how to carry out fire risk assessments that will protect the occupants of non-domestic premises, e.g. employees, contractors, visitors and members of the public, while the new PAS 79-2:2020 gives recommendations for domestic premises.
Who is PAS 79-1:2020 for?
Fire safety professionals with knowledge of the principles of fire safety, who are either responsible for one particular organization’s fire safety assessment or work for consultancies providing fire risk assessments as a service.
Why should you use PAS 79-1:2020?
This PAS gives recommendations and corresponding examples of documentation for undertaking and recording the significant findings of fire risk assessments in non-domestic premises and parts of non-domestic premises for which fire risk assessments are required by legislation.
In the case of mixed-use premises, comprising, for example, shops or offices on lower levels of the building, with flats on the uppermost levels, PAS 79-2:2020 is applicable in relation to the flats.
The objectives of PAS 79-1:2020 are to:
- Provide organisations and their advisers with a methodology that can help them meet their legislative responsibilities to undertake fire risk assessments
- Provide a framework for the assessment of fire risk
- Promote better understanding of fire risks and fire safety by organizations and non-fire specialists
- Enable common relevant terminology to be adopted by those who carry out fire risk assessments
- Provide an understanding of the principles and scope of fire risk assessments
- Establish a pragmatic, holistic and risk-proportionate approach towards assessment of fire prevention measures, fire protection measures and management of fire safety, for the purpose of conducting fire risk assessments, based upon a fundamental understanding of fire safety principles
- Establish a satisfactory basis for documentation of fire risk assessments
- Provide a benchmark for a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
- Promote a consistent approach to carrying out and documenting a fire risk assessment that is likely to be satisfactory to enforcing authorities
- Dispel misconceptions as to the nature and scope of a fire risk assessment
What’s new about PAS 79-1:2020?
This full revision introduces the following principal changes:
- PAS 79-1 is a code of practice, whereas PAS 79:2012 was a guide. PAS 79:2012 was already written in the form of a code of practice – the change in status is simply to recognize this, noting that guides are not usually of such a nature as to sustain a reliable claim of compliance
- The scope now excludes blocks of flats, sheltered housing, extra care housing, supported housing and certain houses in multiple occupation (i.e. those falling within the scope of the relevant fire safety legislation), all of which are now covered in PAS 79-2:2020
- The technical content has been subject to amendment in the light of experience in the use of PAS 79
- There is new guidance on the consideration to be given to external wall construction and cladding
- There is recognition of pre-occupation fire safety assessments, a term now defined in this PAS, and a clarification to avoid confusion between these assessments and the fire risk assessment to which this PAS refers
- There is even greater emphasis on competence of fire risk assessors and reference to future competence standards. It’s also noted that fire safety specialists with experience only in the design of new buildings might not possess an appreciation of standards against which older buildings were designed and the possible continued acceptability of such standards
- Changes to, and publication of various new, British Standards have been taken into account