Produced by Bruce Patterson and Keith Plowman
What is an FRAEW?
FRAEW stands for Fire Risk Appraisal of External Walls. It is a systematic process for evaluating the risk posed by external wall construction and cladding in multi-storey, multi-occupied residential buildings.
Purpose of FRAEW
The purpose of the FRAEW is to inform the Fire Risk Assessment (which now has to take into account the external wall). As such the FRAEW will assess the risk to occupants from fire spreading over or within the external walls of a building. This assessment is crucial in determining whether remediation or other mitigating measures are necessary to address any identified risks, particularly in buildings where combustible materials are present in the external wall construction.
PAS 9980 serves as a structured framework for suitably qualified professionals conducting Fire Risk Appraisals of External Walls (FRAEW). It lays out a methodical approach for evaluating the fire risk posed by a building’s external wall systems, considering various factors such as the building’s design and materials comprising the external wall system.
Understanding Fire Hazards in External Walls
Fire hazards in external walls primarily involve the potential for rapid fire spread due to combustible materials used in cladding or insulation. These hazards are amplified in high-rise buildings where evacuation may be more challenging, and the reach of fire and rescue services may be limited.
How a Company Will Conduct a FRAEW
The process typically involves the following step:
- Initial Assessment: Confirming the need for a FRAEW based on building type and characteristics.
- Data Collection desk top study: Gathering detailed information about the building’s construction, materials used, and any previous assessments.
- Site Inspection: Visual intrusive inspection of the external walls to understand the materials and construction methods.
- Risk Analysis: Evaluating the collected data against defined risk factors to assess the potential for fire spread and its impact.
- Reporting: Compiling a comprehensive report that includes the risk assessment findings, risk rating, and recommendations for risk mitigation.
Key Considerations for a Quality FRAEW
A quality FRAEW should:
- Be thorough in data collection and inspection
- Be conducted by competent professionals with expertise in fire engineering and building construction
- Consider all relevant factors, including building design, materials, and occupant safety
- Provide clear and actionable recommendations
- Comply with PAS 9980 process
Benefits of FRAEW Assessments
Benefits of conducting FRAEW assessments include:
- Informing the FRA.
- Informed decision-making regarding necessary remedial works.
- Enhanced safety for building occupants by identifying and mitigating fire risks.
- Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
- Greater confidence and peace of mind for residents and building owners.
- Standardized approach facilitating consistent and reliable risk assessments.
- FRAEW assessments, particularly when conducted in line with PAS 9980, are crucial in ensuring the safety of buildings against the risk of fire spread through external walls.
With a foundation rooted in fire service experience, our approach to risk is uniquely grounded in a ‘first-hand life safety perspective.’ Our team comprises a blend of industry professionals, collectively addressing every facet of the thefaçade lifecycle – from initial design, build and maintenance to remediations, and lifetime energy consumption calculations.