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Fire safety and external wall cladding 

Building with claddingRecent building fires have drawn attention to fire safety risks in residential mid and high-rise buildings. This includes the 2017 Grenfell fire in London and the 2014 Lacrosse fire in Melbourne.

Investigations in to the Melbourne fire revealed that the external wall cladding was made of aluminium composite panels. The cladding and the way it was used contributed to the rapid spread and intensity of the fire which raised concerns about the non-compliant use of external wall cladding.

The NSW Government has been working on specific measures to address the fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding and has developed and began implementing a co-ordinated, whole of government policy response.

Information for strata managing agents and building, property or maintenance managers
Engaging a fire safety professional
Information for real estate agents
What is the NSW government doing to address the issue?

Information for strata managing agents and building, property or maintenance managers 

Strata managing agents, building managers, property managers or maintenance managers currently managing multi-story residential buildings should check if the building they are responsible for has external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels and that the fire safety measures in the building are appropriate and effective.

You should do the following:

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Find out if the building has aluminium cladding

Review all design and construction documents to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels was used on the building.

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Check that the annual fire safety statement for the building is up-to-date

You should also ensure that all fire safety maintenance measures have been addressed.

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Engage a fire safety professional

If aluminium composite panels have been used on the building engage a fire safety professional to:

  • review and inspect the cladding - including the suitability of the type of material used and installation method
  • check the overall fire safety of the building
  • provide an assessment of any steps required to maintain or improve the building’s fire safety.
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Take immediate action to make any recommended changes to the building

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Engaging a fire safety professional 

It is recommended that you only engage an experienced professional that is a 'fire protection' specialist or a 'fire safety engineer'. Most experienced professional will be members of industry professional bodies - Fire Protection Association Australia, the National Fire Industry Association or Engineers Australia.

Some fire safety services may also be able to be provided by building certifiers accredited in categories A1, A2, or C10. Details of accredited certifiers are available on the Building Professionals Board website www.bpb.nsw.gov.au.

It is important to remember that the presence of aluminium composite cladding on a building does not mean it is non-compliant or a safety hazard, the configuration and how it has been used will also be relevant.

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Information for real estate agents  

Real estate agents currently leasing apartments in multi-story residential buildings should ensure the buildings are safe by checking the external wall cladding. They should also ensure that appropriate fire safety measures are in place.

You should contact the relevant owner, strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager and ask them to: 

 building icon

Find out if the building has aluminium cladding

They should review all design and construction documents to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels was used on the building.

 fire safety statement icon

Check that the annual fire safety statement for the building is up-to-date

They should ensure all fire safety maintenance measures have been addressed.

 Fire inspector icon

Ensure a fire safety professional has inspected any cladding

If aluminium composite panels have been used on the building, ask the strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager if a fire safety professional has:

  • reviewed and inspected the cladding - including the suitability of the type of material used and installation method
  • checked the overall fire safety of the building
  • provided an assessment of any steps required to maintain or improve the building’s fire safety.

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What is the NSW government doing to address the issue? 

An inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce (the Taskforce) has been established and comprehensive reforms are being undertaken to strengthen the protections in place for fire safety in residential buildings.

The Taskforce have sent letters to the tenants and owners of potentially at risk buildings advising them to contact their real estate agent, landlord, strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager and ask for all documents relating to the design and construction of the building to be reviewed to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels was used. The steps outlined above provide for more information on how you should respond.

More information on the steps the NSW Government is taking can be found on the Improving building fire safety page

More information on the Taskforce’s priorities is contained in the factsheet (PDF size: 202kb)

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