Combustible wall cladding

cladding-exteriorCouncil is implementing a program to identify those buildings in the local area containing wall cladding materials that are not compliant with the Building Code of Australia or associated Australian Standards.

This program 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 building in Dubai.

The wall cladding of concern is made from aluminium composite panels, consisting of two aluminium faces and a core material. Typically this material is either polyethylene, mineral based material or a combination of both. Panel thickness typically ranges from between 3mm and 5mm.

There are a number of different products on the market that appear outwardly similar, yet there is a difference in the core materials used.

The core material affects the fire performance of the panel. 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.

The issue with the aluminium composite panels primarily relate to multi–storey buildings with  the potential for the rapid vertical spread of fire because the panels have the capacity to fuel the fire. Typically, there is a 25mm to 50mm gap at the rear of the panel that acts as a chimney, drawing the flame and resulting in entire façades being engulfed by fire in a very short timecladding-grenfell.

What residents can do

If you think your building contains combustible wall cladding material, here are some actions you may wish to take:

  • Seek advice from a suitably qualified fire safety engineer
  • Arrange for testing of the material by a suitably qualified testing laboratory
  • Employ good housekeeping practices, keeping balconies clear of excessive clutter
  • Ensure early warning fire systems and fire fighting devices are functioning correctly and are being maintained.

What will Ku-ring-gai Council do?

  • Undertake an audit of all multi unit developments and commercial buildings constructed since 2005 in an attempt to identify those buildings at risk.
  • Work with the owners of ‘at risk’ buildings to have wall cladding materials checked and appropriately certified.
  • Where necessary, use powers provided under the  Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to ensure the safety of persons in ‘at risk’ premises .
  • Work with government agencies to ensure the fire safety inspection program is appropriate.
  • Support national initiatives for better control of building products within the local market.