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Dedicated EWS-1 Forms portal orchestrated by Fire Industry Association goes live

10 December 2020

IN CONSULTATION with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and in collaboration with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and other stakeholders including lenders and insurers, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) has developed a unique portal which provides a central readily-accessible location for EWS-1 Forms and, for the first time, the ability for signatories to complete the forms online.

Valuation and home survey processes were previously insufficient to establish whether or not external cladding on high-rise buildings (over 18 metres in height) contains combustible material and, therefore, would facilitate the spread of fire.

Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and subsequent MHCLG guidance, the RICS – along with UK Finance and the Building Societies Association – developed EWS-1 Forms as a means of enabling competent fire experts to assess whether these buildings are fire safe and, if not, to identify that remedial work needs to be carried out.

The provision of EWS-1 Forms has proven to be successful in creating a clear and consistent means by which the market understands the documentation required to support the buying, selling or re-mortgaging of properties in high rise buildings. While the EWS-1 Form has been downloaded from the RICS website over 8,000 times, there remain some key issues to be resolved in order to create a fully reliable and accessible process for the upload and retrieval of these forms.

Now live, the FIA’s online solution meets an increasingly urgent need for property sellers and buyers, insurers and mortgage lenders to easily access for free and in one specific location the information they need in order for transactions involving properties in high-rise buildings to proceed as normal post-Grenfell Tower as well as identifying any remedial actions that must be taken on these buildings in respect of external cladding.

Preventing fraudulent activity

Of particular importance is the need to prevent fraudulent activity relating to EWS-1 Forms which, regrettably, has been identified in the market and which can place lives at risk.

A rigorous approach has been applied to the portal to include manual checks at various stages of the process. Each signatory wishing to submit EWS-1 Forms must present evidence that they’re fully qualified and competent to do so. This is interrogated prior to enabling their EWS-1 Forms to be submitted to the portal. In addition, all existing forms and online submissions are subject to further checks to determine their validity before they appear as publicly-available documents. In this way, the FIA expects to minimise the problem of fraudulent EWS-1 Forms appearing in the market.

The FIA has fully-funded this portal and has employed software specialists to create an effective, efficient and user-friendly site that has been approved by the RICS Forum. As stated, the portal is now active and enables signatories to EWS-1 Forms to register to submit these forms.

Within a few days, and as initial registrations are checked and approved, signatories will be able to submit EWS-1 Forms and these will shortly appear on the portal again once checked and approved. Forms that are uploaded will then be available for viewing and download free of charge.

*Access the Fire Industry Association’s website for further information