BSi Guidance on Fire Risk Assessment ─ PAS 79-2 – would be withdrawn from sale “pending further consideration” …

BSI withdraws its new guidance on fire risk assessments after a bereaved Grenfell family threatened legal action, saying it ignored critical inquiry recommendations relating to people with disabilities.

Sakina Afrasehabi, was a disabled woman who lived with her sister Fatemeh on the 18th floor of Grenfell Tower ─ sadly both died in the fire [RIP] ...

The family has threatened to judicially review the BSI in February ─ arguing that its new guidance on carrying fire risk assessments was silent on and ignored the clear recommendation of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry ─ to ensure people with disabilities should be offered evacuation plans ...

The ICM understands that the BSI wrote to the family’s lawyers to confirm the guidance – dubbed PAS 79-2 – would be withdrawn from sale “pending further consideration” ...

... and “in particular, BSI is conscious that information continues to emerge from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the government’s response to it ...

... BSI wishes to ensure that the PAS 79-2 steering group can benefit from consideration of those recent developments and emerging information, and has an adequate opportunity to take them into account,” ...

ICM's Director of Education & Training David Jones finds it astonishing and almost unbelievably inhumane that such a specific  guidance on undertaking fire risk assessment could possibly say it was “not normally practicable” for fire risk assessments to identify people with disabilities or for landlords to make provision for their evacuation in a fire ─ What!? ─ words fail me except, perhaps, the more expressive ones I dare not commit to write!

What perilous nonsense! ... the BSI went on to note that risk assessors would need to “monitor the progress of any new legislation” emerging from the inquiry and it added that it had traditionally been seen as “wholly unrealistic” for housing providers to prepare plans for escape ─ utter dangerous rubbish! ─ to suggest there's hazard elements of any risk assessment that may be excluded defies all logic! ...

... the basic hierarchic process of any risk assessment simply must start with an appropriately trained person possessing the ability and adequate resources to competently find ALL the hazards and then make a robust attempt to Eliminate what are able to be removed as far as reasonably practicable.   What's left is what is known as the residual hazards that must be assessed or, better explained, as 'measured' i.e. the expert's process establishing what is the likelihood of harm and, if the identified harm actually happens, how severe would be the consequences ... 

 

... "to even think and guide others to conclude it's not normally practicable for fire risk assessments to identify people with disabilities and thus exclude those persons from safe evacuation planning in the event of a fire is sheer insanity!"

David Jones - ICM Director of Education & Training

... this flew in direct contrast to the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s phase one report, published in October 2019, which said housing providers should be subject to ─ a “legal requirement” to develop personal emergency evacuation plans [PEEPs] for all disabled residents of high rises ...

PAS 79-2 guidance was authored by Colin Todd, who also acted as an expert witness to Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.   He was the only one of the four 'experts' to give their opinion on the provisions of PEEPs and, extraordinarily advocated against them.

David Jones finds the absence of any requirement for consideration of persons with disabilities in existing guidance totally  unacceptable and is a substantial breach of the functional requirements for means of escape ...

A letter to the BSI drafted by the family’s lawyers, Bhatt Murphy, said it was “evident” that inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick “rejected this evidence from Mr Todd in favour of the evidence of the other inquiry experts” ...

They said that the subsequent publication of a standard contradicting the inquiry position was “unlawful” as it represented “an unjustified departure from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendations” ─ which the government has on several occasions promised to adopt ...

In a further letter they called the guidance “significantly regressive” in comparison to an earlier standard and said it “conflicts with every other current guidance document” in advising against the identification of people with disabilities ...

The withdrawal of the guidance follows the Home Office relaunching a consultation on PEEPs, having originally proposed to implement them only for blocks with dangerous cladding ...

This was also following a threat of judicial review from Ms Afrasehabi’s family, with documents disclosed during the process showing that industry figures had lobbied against the proposal, calling it “totally impracticable”.

David Jones is pleased to learn that a spokesperson for the BSI said: “BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, is temporarily suspending PAS 79-2: 2020 Fire risk assessment, Housing, Code of practice and has removed it from sale ─

─ that such vitally important UK National Standards are only available to purchase commercially is also another disgraceful criticism that David Jones levies on the system! ─ "they should be freely available" says David Jones "and made more widely accessible in public libraries and online for reference by all who seek to know!" ─ cost should not be a barrier to knowing the basic standards to achieve!"

The suspension of the voluntary code of practice is pending a further review by the steering group, which is made up of experts in fire safety, fire risk assessment and the housing sector.
“As new information emerges from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the government’s response to it, BSI wishes the Steering Group to consider these and have the opportunity to take them into account before reaching consensus on the guidance and recommendations in the code. BSI would like the Steering Group to re-visit points raised during the public consultation relevant to persons with a disability and intends to further consult with experts in this field.”

ICM understands that Mr Todd did not respond to a request for comment.

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