JULY 7 2017
Prahran residents fear fire risk over flame-coloured facade
The atmosphere in the lift every morning changed after the signs went up. Neighbours would look at each other sideways, worried.
A notice posted in communal areas of the Trilogi apartment building in Prahran warned residents against lighting barbecues or using lights and powerpoints on their balconies over fears the building's distinct flame-coloured cladding could catch fire.
The most recent warning notices appeared in the wake of the Grenfell tower blaze in London, which claimed 80 lives and may have been fuelled by similar flammable cladding.
But resident Anne (not her real name) – one of 807 people living in the building – said the body corporate had been aware of the danger since January 2016.
Anne said that is when the first notice went up, indicating all 12 storeys of the luxury apartment block on High Street were fitted with cladding described as "non-compliant" and posing an "unusual fire risk".
Anne is furious with the situation and the lack of action, given how long ago the first warning notices went up.
"It is marketed as top level luxury apartment. For them to cut corners on something as important as this and tell us that we shouldn't use certain power points in our own apartment is ridiculous," she said.
The original notice to residents in January 2016. Photo: Supplied
To add to the potential risk, the Trilogi building is also home to burger outlet Huxtaburger and two other restaurants.
"I don't think it's safe to have commercial businesses operating with gas stoves directly underneath, especially when they are right next to the flammable orange cladding," Anne said.
Notice to residents of the Trilogi building. Photo: Supplied
For those living in this building, the reality of a fire is front of mind.
"They have obviously only put up this recent notice because of what has happened in London. When I saw those images and realise that the building only took 15 minutes to go up in flames, I thought our building would go up in half that time," she said. "Every time we all get in the lift and read those notices we just look at each other, we are worried."
Greens member for Prahran Sam Hibbins said the state government had been slow on the issue.
"The Greens wrote to the Environment and Planning Committee asking for an inquiry into the issue and that was in January 2017. The chair didn't even bother responding," he said.
Stonnington City Council, which is responsible for issuing emergency orders, told Fairfax Media they were not aware of the problem.
"If council were to receive any reports of non-compliance, it will investigate and take appropriate action," City of Stonnington chief executive Warren Roberts said.
"It is noted, however, that the buildings are new and have been approved and granted occupancy permits by a private building surveyor. It is the role and responsibility of the private building surveyor at the time of construction to verify that all the work complies and is safe."
The developer of the Trilogi building, Probuild, is also responsible for the Travelodge in Docklands, which Fairfax Media has revealed has the same cladding as the Grenfell tower.
In a statement, Probuild said: "The safety of all our work is at the forefront of everything we do and all our buildings comply with Australian building standards. It is acknowledged that this is an industry-wide issue and we are working closely with the owners corporation and independent advisors to work through the situation."
Fairfax Media has contacted the body corporate, The Knight and Huxtaburger, for comment.