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Fire safety and external wall cladding 

Lacrosse Highrise BuildingRecent 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. Investigations continue into the cause of the London fire.

The NSW Government is working to address the fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding in high-rise buildings and has developed and started implementing a co-ordinated, whole of government policy response. More information on the actions the NSW Government are taking is contained in this factsheet (PDF size: 202kb)

Check your apartment is fire safe
Owners
Tenants
What is Cladding?

Check your apartment is fire safe 

Owners and tenants should check if their apartment has cladding made of aluminium composite panels and that the fire safety measures in the building are appropriate and effective.

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Owners 

Find out if your apartment has aluminium cladding 

Contact your strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager and ask them to review all design and construction documents to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels was used on your building.

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Make sure the annual fire safety statement is up-to-date 

Your strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager should be able to advise you. You should also ensure that all fire safety maintenance measures have been addressed. Annual fire safety statements should be prominently displayed in your building.

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Engage a fire safety professional 

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

  1. review and inspect the cladding - including the suitability of the type of material used and installation method
  2. check the overall fire safety of the building
  3. provide an assessment of any steps required to maintain or improve the building’s fire safety.

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Take immediate action  

Make any recommended changes to the building.

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Tenants 

Does my apartment have aluminium cladding? 

Contact your real estate manager or private landlord and ask them to contact the owner, strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager, requesting they review all design and construction documents to determine whether external wall cladding made of aluminium composite panels was used on your building.

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Is the annual fire safety statement up-to-date? 

Your real estate agent or private landlord can check with the relevant owner, strata managing agent, building manager, property manager or maintenance manager. You should also ensure all fire safety maintenance measures have been addressed. Annual fire safety statements should be prominently displayed in your building.

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Has a fire safety professional been engaged? 

If aluminium composite panels are on your building ask your real estate agent or private landlord to check if a fire safety professional has been engaged to:

  1. review and inspect the cladding - including the suitability of the type of material used and installation method
  2. check the overall fire safety of the building
  3. provide an assessment of any steps required to maintain or improve the building’s fire safety.

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What action has been taken? 

If your building has been reviewed by a fire safety professional what were the recommended changes and what action has been taken?

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What is Cladding? 

Cladding describes the material used to cover the external wall or roof of a building that protects the building from the effects of weather and sound. It has been widely used in NSW over the past two decades as a design feature to enhance the exteriors of buildings. Common materials used for cladding include weatherboard, lightweight panels (such as aluminium composite panels) polystyrene products and metal sheeting.

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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