All new buildings across the north shore will be inspected for fire safety after Grenfell Tower incident
Jake McCallum, Hornsby Advocate
July 5, 2017 3:32pm
A SPECIALIST team of fire safety auditors has begun inspections of new apartment buildings across the Ku-ring-gai region — following the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in London last month.
A Ku-ring-gai Council spokeswoman said the fire safety inspection program would target apartment buildings constructed since 2005.
“It has been introduced due to the recent Grenfell Tower fire in London, and earlier fires at a residential apartment complex in Melbourne and a hotel in Dubai,’’ she said.
The specialist team of inspectors are working to identify buildings across the region containing wall cladding materials that are not compliant with Australian standards or the Building Code of Australia.
“Our audit has just commenced, with the first stage a desktop audit of all our records to establish a list of commercial or multi-story residential flat buildings that have been constructed since 2005,” the spokeswoman said.
“Once this list is established, officers will visit each site to determine if a cladding material has been used in the construction.
“If so, those buildings will be subject to more focus.”
All new buildings across Ku-ring-gai will be inspected in coming weeks to ensure their fire safety.
Flammable external cladding fuelled the fire in the Grenfell tower in London. Picture: Jeremy Selwyn
Ku-ring-gai Council conducted a fire safety audit of all residential flat buildings 15 years ago.
“All of our unit buildings are now part of the NSW mandatory Annual Fire Safety Program, that requires building owners to submit a certificate to council each year testifying that their fire fighting and early warning systems are in good working order,” the spokeswoman said.
“907 buildings with the Ku-ring-gai area are currently subject to this annual check, with the number increasing as new developments are built.”
The spokeswoman said it is expected that inspections will take place in the next fortnight.
“The wall cladding of concern is made from aluminium composite panels, consisting of two aluminium faces and a core material,” she said.
“Typically this material is either polythene, mineral based material or a combination of both. Panel thickness typically ranges from between 3mm and 5mm.
“Panels with a higher proportion of mineral based material are generally considered to have better fire performance than those with a polyethelene core or a low proportion of mineral core content.”
Workers remove panels of external cladding from a building in the UK.
Ku-ring-gai Mayor Jennifer Anderson said residents who are concerned about materials used should contact their strata manager to obtain advice from a qualified fire safety engineer.
“If needed, the council will use powers under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to ensure buildings are made fire safe”, Cr Anderson said.
“As we have tragically seen in London, buildings with this type of cladding are at risk because the panels have the capacity to fuel the fire.
Fire engulfs the Grenfell tower
Huge fire engulfs London high-rise building
“They can act as a chimney, drawing the flame and accelerating the spread of fire quite dramatically.
“Fire safety engineers can arrange testing of the materials used in the cladding.”
The spokeswoman said council has received a handful of general inquiries from local residents about the inspections, “but at this time no occupant has come forward claiming that their building may contain the inferior cladding material”.