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EWS1 Certification

Fire Risk Assessment

What is Form EWS1 and Advice Note 14?

14th June 2017.

An infamous date in UK history.

The Grenfell Tower fire.

What began as a simple kitchen fire, fast became the worst UK residential fire since the Second World War. In less than three and a half hours, 72 people died in one of the UK’s worst modern disasters. 

This cannot be allowed to happen again.

The ACM cladding fitted on Grenfell Tower was cited as the primary reason why the fire spread so rapidly and extensively. The use of ACM cladding is now banned on new high-rise residential buildings, and on buildings that require external refurbishment.

Are buildings that do not have ACM cladding automatically safe? No.

Advice Note 14

In December 2018, Article 14 was published to provide guidance, for owners of buildings over 18m in height, on non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems. Article 14 places the responsibility on building owners to ensure that the external wall systems of their buildings are safe.

What is safe?

  1. All materials must be safely installed and maintained.
  2. Cavity barriers must be fitted accurately.
  3. All external wall systems (including cladding and insulation) must be composed of materials that are of limited combustibility (class A2 or higher) unless the systems have achieved BR 135 classification via a BS 8481 test.

However, not many materials are subject to a BS 8481 test. Therefore, if the materials used are considered combustible a property is in violation of Advice Note 14 and is in need of remediation.

This means that valuation surveyors can value properties at £0.00 or substantially lower than their projected market value.

In addition, it is increasingly hard to find a suitable person to carry out the checks required. This uncertainty can lead to loss of sales and failed mortgage checks.

How can building owners avoid this?

Non-compliant materials must be completely removed and replaced by materials that meet current standards (Class A1 or A2-s1, d0). These are the same materials used in new builds. Fire alarms and/or a 24/7 fire patrol may also be required in the interim period.

Form EWS1

In December 2019, Form EWS1 was developed to ensure consistency and avoid confusion. 

Form EWS1 must be completed by a suitably qualified and competent fire safety professional to prove that the external wall system of a building has no combustible materials in its external walls. Only one assessment per building is required and certification is valid for five years.

The certification process involves sufficient levels of extraction, analysis and testing of materials. Certification cannot be provided without detailed physical inspections.

If the fire safety professional discovers that the external wall system is not of limited combustibility, a more intrusive investigation will need to be commissioned to determine whether remedial action is required. While EWS1 supersedes Advice Note 14, the processes set out in Advice Note 14 are still required to provide certification.