An investigation by Victoria’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade found that external aluminium composite cladding used in the construction of the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct did not comply with the standards required for that use and contributed to the rapid spread of fire up the building in November 2014.
A building in Perth CBD which contains a type of cladding similar to that used in the construction of the Lacrosse Building has been assessed. The specified cladding has been certified as compliant by an independent building certifier and the City of Perth has confirmed that the specified material has been installed.
The Western Australian Building Commission worked with the City of Perth to determine whether the use of the cladding in the identified building complies with the fire performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia. The cladding used on the CBD building is a fire rated version of the Alucobest product. Its use and installation has been certified and meets building standard specifications.
The City of Perth will audit up to 70 high-risk buildings in the Perth CBD to identify if this product has been used in other buildings and if it has been used, to determine whether it complies with the building standards. If the product is found to have been installed in a non-compliant manner the City of Perth has powers to order the builder or the owner to rectify the work and to prosecute the builder if it has failed to ensure that the building meets the applicable building standards.
The Building Commission may also take disciplinary action against builders and building surveyors if they are found to have not met their responsibilities under the building laws.
WA Building Commissioner Peter Gow said this approach was consistent with that of other states, including Victoria. “Like our Victorian counterparts, we are taking a targeted approach in checking high-rise residential buildings in the CBD in the first instance,” Mr Gow said.
“The Building Commission will support the City of Perth to carry out the audit and, if non-compliant cladding is identified, will assist the City to have buildings brought into compliance. We expect builders and building owners will be responsible and will rectify any non-compliance discovered in the audit. However, the City and the Building Commission have powers to require rectification if these powers are needed.”
The Commissioner said the audit would not be limited to the Alucobest brand of aluminium composite panelling used in the Lacrosse Building. Just because a building is clad with a composite panel, it does not mean the building is non-compliant.
“This type of cladding may have been used inappropriately on the Lacrosse Building, but that does not mean it cannot be used appropriately in other circumstances,” Mr Gow said.
“Any non-compliant use of an aluminium composite cladding panel should be reported to the Building Commission or to the building department of the local government where the building is located.”
The Building Commission recently issued Industry Bulletin 54 to alert the WA building industry, building owners and permit authorities to the importance of ensuring any proposed external cladding is compliant with the fire performance requirements of the Building Code of Australia. The bulletin, which is available on the Building Commission website, reminds builders of their obligations to ensure buildings are completed in accordance with the approved plans and specifications and of the overarching requirement to comply with applicable building standards.
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