New standard launched to help reduce fire risk and improve the safety of non-domestic buildings

Press release - 12th September 2012

BSI has responded to a call from the fire industry by updating the Publicly Available Specification PAS 79 to ensure that anyone with a responsibility for premises take measures to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that there is facility for safe escape.

Although fire risk assessments for non-domestic premises are required by law, unsuitable fire risk assessments are still common place. Many of these have led to serious or multiple fatalities and criminal prosecutions.

PAS 79 – Fire risk assessment, is a well-respected document which has already made a positive contribution to enhancing fire safety and protecting and minimising risk to the occupants of buildings. The standard provides a structured approach to fire risk assessment and is an essential document for fire professionals including fire risk assessors, fire safety consultants, health & safety consultants, building and property managers, facilities managers and consultancies providing fire risk assessments as a service.

The revised edition launched by BSI today aims to do even more as it includes:

  • New guidance on the role of codes of practice and guidance documents as a basis for determining appropriate fire precautions
  • New guidance on the approach that should be adopted in determining the appropriate fire precautions for existing buildings that do confirm to current codes of practice applicable to new buildings (e.g. under current building regulations)
  • A new annex that contains a competence standard for fire risk assessors, developed and agreed by stakeholders in the fire safety profession.
  • Editable PDFs of the model pro-formas for documentation of a fire risk assessment and review of an existing fire risk assessment

The revised specification, PAS 79 has been drafted by CS Todd & Associates Ltd, who have been involved in and written the standard since its conception, in conjunction with BSI and a group of representatives from prominent UK fire safety organizations. Integral to the steering group are the Fire Industry Association, the Fire Protection Association and the Institution of Fire Engineers.

Jonathan Herrick, Fire Safety Policy and Partnerships Manager, Technical and Operational Support Directorate at West Midlands Fire Service said, “The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) is pleased to have been involved with and to influence the review of the PAS 79 standard. Although statute in England and Wales does not detail a right or wrong way to approach fire safety risk assessment, this guidance provides a structured and considered approach to the subject and, if properly completed, should satisfy the requirements of the law and enforcing authorities. The methodology provides for the mitigation of fires as well as for control measures if a fire should occur. It will also provide a common and consistent approach to risk assessment across an organisations building stock. CFOA encourages consistency in both enforcing authorities and those that have to comply with fire safety requirements.”

“BSI’s responsibility is to ensure that standards develop and evolve to respond to the pressing industry and societal issues of the day,” said Shirley Bailey-Wood, Director of Publishing at BSI.“PAS 79 has been revised to take account of changes to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) and is underpinned by a collaborative and rigorous consensus approach by experts in the field to help reduce risk and improve the safety of non-domestic buildings.”

Notes to editors:

“The FIA is a not-for-profit trade association promoting the professional status of the UK fire safety industry. The latest update to PAS 79 document is particularly important as it provides a benchmark standard for fire risk assessments as required by UK legislation. We fully support the comprehensive guidance given and the nine-step structured approach to conducting a fire risk assessment. The updated document complements and supports the work of the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council and the drive towards third party accreditation for fire risk assessors. We welcome the publication of this update to PAS 79 and the contribution the document makes in setting out a holistic approach to fire safety risk assessment and achieving best practice across the fire industry. “

Alan Kurnatowski MIFSM GIFireE, Peakland Fire Safety Ltd

“The Institute of Fire Safety Officers (IFPO) is delighted to have taken part in the review and the latest developments to PAS 79. We believe that this document gives excellent guidance in the preparation and formation of the risks from fire, in a clear and unambiguous assessment when used by a competent person. The panel of the Fire Risk Assessors Register of the IFPO believes that the use of this document would assist any person making an application wishing to be included onto any register of assessors.”

Ian Shakespeare, Vice Chairman of the Institution of Fire Prevention Officers