Fire wall risk contained, says audit report

The Building Commission’s supplementary audit of Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) fire walls has found isolated areas of non-compliance but no systemic issues that pose an ongoing concern for the safety of occupants.

The supplementary audit assessed the validity of allegations made in an anonymous letter to the former WA Health Minister in March 2017 and similar claims raised directly with the Building Commissioner by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in April 2017.

The claims included poor supervision of works by the building contractor and the defective construction of fire walls.

“Fire walls are an integral aspect of a building’s fire safety – they are designed to confine a fire within a ‘fire compartment’ for a certain period of time, limiting its spread to another part of a building,” Building Commissioner Peter Gow said.

“Defective fire walls could have potentially devastating consequences for the building’s future occupants and the commissioning of the hospital, so the Building Commission took the allegations seriously and conducted a full audit of the fire walls.

“The audit team found that apart from some minor defects, which were acknowledged by the builder, most of the claimed defects in the fire walls could not be substantiated on site. This may be because the defects were fixed through the builder’s quality control processes after the person or people making the claims had left the site.

“The defects found by the audit team in fire wall construction have been, or are in the process of being, remedied by the builder.

“The Building Commission is satisfied there is no systemic problem with the building’s fire walls.”

The Building Commission found in the preliminary stage of the audit that the builder had an inspection regime for the fire walls in place. This gave the audit team some reassurance as it went about seeking and assessing more detailed information about the fire walls.

The audit team assessed more than 2,200 records of inspections of the fire walls under construction, conducted a series of site visits and obtained expert advice from an independent fire engineer as required.

The anonymous allegations about the fire walls were received shortly before the Building Commission’s release of a final audit report into several specific conformance issues with the PCH building. As details of the allegations were insufficient for pinpointing specific locations to be examined, the issue of fire wall compliance was addressed in this separate supplementary report.

The supplementary audit report is available on the Building Commission website at: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/supplementary-report-perth-childrens-hospital-audit-fire-walls.

Building Commission
Media release
23 Oct 2017

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