Combustible cladding has been installed on numerous buildings where it has significantly increased the risk of fire spread, putting lives at great risk. The Lacrosse Building fire in Melbourne in 2014 and the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 are unfortunate examples of what combustible cladding installed in buildings has led to in the past, and the problem remains one of the largest safety risk issues in the industry today.
2014 in Melbourne, the Lacrosse Building, a 23-story mixed-use commercial-residential property, was affected by a fire originated by a burning cigarette, thrown on an eighth-floor balcony. The fire spread to the 21st floor within 11 minutes because of the materials used in its external cladding. 500 people required immediate evacuation, but fortunately there were no fatalities or serious injuries.
2017 in London, the Grenfell Tower, a 24-story residential building, was also affected by a fire. The fire originated with a malfunctioning fridge-freezer on the fourth floor and rapidly spread across the upper floors because of the exterior combustible cladding. In this catastrophic event, 72 people lost their lives.
Sedgwick’s industry involvement with combustible cladding has been ongoing for several years now. In Australia, our first big involvement was the management of the Lacrosse Building fire. Lacrosse was the catalyst for significant investigation and new industry reform within Australia.
Australia’s requirements – where legislation introduced in each state now requires mandatory registration and declaration of your building to allow risk, where present, to be addressed and reduced – are the latest to come into effect. However, additional legislation is being implemented by different governments around the world to avoid putting more lives at risk in the event of fire, especially in residential apartment buildings where occupants are present at night and the chance to escape decreases. We continue to support our clients and industry partners, offering tips to remain safe and in compliance.
The need for self-regulation and what comes next can be confusing for owner corporate managers and the owners they represent. New regulations in each Australian state differ slightly, however initial registration of your buildings is the first step towards addressing combustible cladding. Failing to register can result in financial penalties or disciplinary action. Are you prepared?
We have summarized the main points of the different regulations in the eastern states of Australia:
New South Wales (NSW)
When: by the 22nd of February, 2019
Who qualifies for registration: As a guide, buildings that qualify for registration are ones that are two-story or more – an apartment building, accommodation such as hotel or motel, educational, aged care, disability or public assembly facility of any kind. Additionally, a building will qualify if it has any suspicious cladding material installed, such as composite panels or insulated panels to the external areas.
What do you need to do? If you are a building owner or apartment owner within the building, you are required to complete the mandated checklist and registration process by February 22, 2019, or with new buildings, within four months of being occupied. Registration can be completed at www.claddingregistration.nsw.gov.au.
When: Part 1 deadline – 29th of March, 2019 (the regulation came into effect on 1st of October, 2018)
Who qualifies for registration: As a guide, buildings that require registration are Class 2 – 9 of Type A or B construction and have been built or have had the cladding altered after January 1, 1994, but before October 1, 2018.
What do you need to do? Body corporate representatives or property managers need to complete a checklist and registration by March 29, 2019 (Part 1). Registration can be completed at www.saferbuildings.qld.gov.au.
When: Deadline indeterminate
Who qualifies for registration: Building managers, building owners or owners’ corporations will be contacted by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) prior to an inspection taking place.
What do you need to do? There is no requirement like QLD and NSW to register your building, however if the building is inspected as part of the project, you may receive a letter from the VBA*.
*VBA is leading a Victorian state-wide cladding audit on behalf of the Victorian Government. The project’s focus is on reducing the fire safety risk of buildings found to have combustible cladding – such as expanded polystyrene or aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core.
How to know if your building has been impacted by combustible cladding? And what to do if it has been impacted?
If your building is impacted by combustible cladding, partnering with the right experts to manage the process will ensure you comply with the ever-changing legislation that is responding to the crisis.
Keep in mind the following five-step process, developed by our expert team in Australia at the forefront of these requirements, to assist with combustible cladding issues – from assistance at initial registration right through to remediation solutions and management of replacement.
If you’d like further information about this subject, please contact our expert team:
+61 1300 735 720