Ku-ring-gai Council steps up fire safety inspections for new apartment buildings

Published on 27 June 2017

In the wake of recent fire tragedies affecting apartment buildings, the Council will audit cladding used in unit blocks constructed since 2005.

During the program which is being implemented from this week, the Council will seek to identify  buildings in Ku-ring-gai containing  wall cladding  materials that are not compliant with the Building Code of Australia or associated Australian Standards.

The fire safety inspection program will target apartment buildings constructed since 2005 and 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.

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.

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.

Mayor Jennifer Anderson said the issue with the aluminium composite panels ‘primarily relates to multi–storey buildings’. 

“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.They can act as a chimney, drawing the flame and accelerating the spread of fire quite dramatically”.

The Mayor added that residents who were concerned should in the first instance contact their strata manager to obtain advice from a qualified fire safety engineer.

“Fire safety engineers can arrange testing of the materials used in the cladding. Residents of unit buildings should also keep fire exits clear of obstacles and ensure that fire extinguishers are working correctly.”

The Mayor said Council staff carrying out inspections would work with the owners of buildings found to have wall cladding materials that were suspect.

“If needed the Council will use powers under the  Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to ensure buildings are made fire safe”, the Mayor said.

For more information about the inspection program visit www.kmc.nsw.gov.au

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Media enquiries: Sally Williams Ku-ring-gai Council Ph: 9424 0982