In June 2017, a vicious fire tore through London 24 Storey Grenfell tower, causing 72 fatalities. More recently, in February 2019 the Melbourne Neo 2000 building caught on fire from a lit cigarette on a balcony. The devastation was awful, and the tower was destroyed. After these events, stakeholders highlighted the issue of using highly combustible cladding in high-rise buildings.
The Australian government has learnt from past incidents, banning the use of combustible cladding including Aluminium composite panels (ACPS) and metal panels with polymer cores and requiring immediate replacement with safer alternatives. If you discover that your building contains non compliant cladding, remember to notify your insurer.
When it comes down to it lot owners are held responsible for making their buildings safe. Although Owners Corporations must be aware of buildings composition and suitability of materials.
Steps to keep your Owners Corporation property cladding compliant:
1. Know your state regulations: In NSW, under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Identification of Buildings with Combustible Cladding) Regulation 2018, rules in NSW include mandatory registration for all commercial, residential and mixed use buildings that contain combustible cladding and are two stores and above.
2.Building Assessment: Have your building assessed when required. Being on the cautious side is so important. Risk assessment is crucial. It is also so important for lot owners to know what kind of cladding materials are used in their building. Furthermore, you need to know how safe your building is by National Construction Code fire standards and how to remove or replace non-compliant cladding materials with safer alternatives. Lastly, have processes in place in case worst case scenarios and emergencies occur.
3.Keep copies of inspection and certification documentation: For compliance checks you need to ensure you retain copies of inspection and certification documents. The processes and requirements can be confusing and confronting so get you strata manager to assist. You Strata Manager can guide you with building registration, cladding checklist and assessment in order. It’s advised to keep track of government specified deadlines to minimise paying risks.
4.Fire Safety Measures: It is so important to enforce your fire safety measures as they are in place for a reason. Ask yourself: have you got enough fire-safety equipment and warning notices in place? Can you easily access equipment on your property? Are they visible and not hidden behind anything? Are you conducing regular fire-checks and drills? Making fire-safety a priority can save your life. It can make all the difference for your property, community and your wellbeing. Also remember to keep fire exits unblocked by vehicles and objects and common areas uncluttered during emergencies.
5.Follow fire safety actions: Some fire safety actions include extinguishing cigarettes safely. Keeping hallways clear so residents can evacuate building swiftly, don’t cover air-conditioning units with clothes or other materials, keep balconies clear and tidy, don’t use barbecues and heaters on balconies near potentially combustible materials, ensure smoke alarms in lots are connected and not covered, keep fire stairwells and landings clear of objects and don’t store items within them.
To improve the value of your investment, it is crucial that you understand your Owners Corporation cladding requirements. If you have any queries or questions regarding cladding, please contact your SSKB Owners Corporation Manager today.