PAS 79

First published in 2005 and revised in 2007, PAS 79 sets out a methodology for undertaking a fire risk assessment. It is a Publicly Available Specification. Although not a British Standard, it has been developed and published by the British Standards Institution, BSI. It was prepared in association with C. S. Todd & Associates Ltd, with the support and encouragement of the Institution of Fire Engineers and the Northern Ireland Fire Safety Panel – we led the drafting of the guidance on fire risk assessment contained within the document.

PAS 79 is specifically aimed at ensuring that all necessary information relating to the fire risk assessment and its findings is recorded. The need to carry out a fire risk assessment and to document the significant findings from that assessment is fundamental to current fire law.

PAS 79 sets out one way to carry out a fire risk assessment. It is intended to be used to produce a simple qualitative assessment of the risk from fire. It is particularly aimed at people, such as ourselves, providing a service. By insisting on your consultant using the approach in PAS 79, you can be sure that the person who undertakes the fire risk assessment will be following a recognised methodology and also ensure that they produce a report covering all relevant aspects of fire safety.

Other methodologies may be more appropriate in particular circumstances, including quantitative risk assessment. However, from our experience, PAS 79 can be used for any size of building and for a wide range premises, including:

The approach underpinning PAS 79 is one of systematic evaluation of the factors that determine the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur.

This is illustrated diagrammatically below.


Nine separate steps to carrying out a fire risk assessment are outlined in PAS 79:

  1. Obtain information on the building, the processes carried out in the building and the people present, or likely to be present, in the building;
  2. Identify the fire hazards and the means for their elimination or control;
  3. Assess the likelihood of a fire;
  4. Determine the fire protection measures in the building;
  5. Obtain relevant information about fire safety management;
  6. Make assessment of the likely consequences to people in the event of fire;
  7. Make an assessment of the fire risk;
  8. Formulate and document an action plan;
  9. Define the date by which the fire risk assessment should be reviewed.

PAS 79 includes a format for a report for recording the fire risk assessment. This is in a simple pro-forma style, with an action plan at the end to set out any recommendations. It is not intended to be a check list, but includes tick boxes to confirm that all relevant items have been considered. The format of the documentation contained in PAS79 is considered by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association to be one suitable format for recording significant findings of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment.