Aluminium cladding and fire risk
The 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy in London claimed the lives of 72 people and served to highlight the serious fire risk posed by combustible aluminium cladding, particularly when retrofitted to older buildings.
The primary cause of the Grenfell Tower fire’s swift spread is said to have been the external cladding’s composite panels which despite being banned in the UK, contained polyethylene material which is highly flammable.
As a result of this incident, building regulation in Australia has been subject to scrutiny and all levels of government have been urged to address the use of non-compliant building materials with targeted legislation. In September 2017, the Senate Economics Reference Committee released an interim report on composite aluminium cladding as part of the inquiry into non-conforming building products. The interim report is available here:
What to do may vary by state
While the Federal government awaits the final report from the Senate Inquiry, it has encouraged State and Territory governments to tackle non-compliance at their level by reviewing building regulations. Many state governments have obliged and are reviewing such requirements, conducting audits and placing a greater onus on owners and owners corporations to know the extent of the fire safety of their buildings as well as encouraging replacement cladding works to be undertaken.