External Fire Review Form (EWS1)
A note from CIAT on the External Fire Review Form.
The External Fire Review Form (EWS1) was developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), together with UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA), in December 2019. The primary aim was to give comfort to lenders on the fire safety of high-residential apartment blocks.
In May 2021, CIAT advised its Chartered Architectural Technologists that they could apply for the RICS EWS1 Assessment Training, aimed specifically at professionals intending to undertake external wall fire reviews for low to medium risk buildings only.
A statement issued by the UK Government on 21 July 2021 (and reported here) made it clear that the EWS1 forms would only be required for buildings over 18m. Until clarification is received as to how this process will operate, and how those that undertake this work will be insured, the status quo remains and EWS1 Forms may still be required for buildings below 18m in height.
Members and affiliates should be aware that the EWS1 Form is intended to be completed by professionals with the necessary experience in fire safety and testing, who are able to access the component parts of an external wall system i.e., cladding, insulation etc. and hold the appropriate professional indemnity insurance (PII). As this is a specialised role that may require samples of cladding material to be taken and tested, especially where the original specification or 'as built' information is no longer available, the completion of this Form does not fall within the general scope of an Architectural Technology professional's duties. As a result, the liabilities that will arise from the completion of the Form are unlikely to fall within the scope of your PII. If you are an employee, and you are asked to undertake this as part of your duties, you should check that your employer has the necessary cover and will be covering you as part of your employment, this is important to protect you from any possible risk.
For those who are self-employed, if you are asked to complete this Form, as a first step, we would recommend contacting your insurance brokers to ensure that your current PII policy will cover this work. Unfortunately, we have been advised that the majority of PI insurers are not prepared to offer cover for this type of work, with the RICS minimum terms now being amended to reflect that this risk can be excluded.
In the event that your current policy is not sufficient, you may need to consider securing separate insurance which would need to be maintained for the duration of the liability period, although such cover may be prohibitively expensive.
CIAT will continue to work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and RICS to represent you and keep you apprised of the latest information on this matter.
We would also refer you to the RICS website for a set of FAQs.