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Fire safety and external wall cladding 

Since January 2015, the NSW Government has been working on specific measures to address the fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding.

In addition, on 16 June 2017, the NSW Government developed and began implementing a co-ordinated, whole of government policy response to the Grenfell fire in London.

An inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce (the Taskforce) was established. The Taskforce has representatives from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation (DFSI), the Data Analytic Centre (DAC), the Department of Planning and Environment, Fire and Rescue NSW, the Office of Local Government, Treasury and the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The Taskforce has developed a whole of government action plan to prioritise and address fire safety requirements for residential buildings, including dealing with fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding.

The Taskforce performs an expert and advisory function and is working with the Federal Government, local councils and industry.

Taskforce priorities 

On 28 July, 2017 the Government announced comprehensive reforms being undertaken by the Taskforce to further strengthen the protections in place for fire safety focussing firstly on residential buildings, including:

  • Conducting a data audit to identify buildings that are most likely to contain aluminium cladding and other types of cladding.
  • Providing information and advice to the owners and managers of the buildings identified in the data audit. If required, this will include a recommendation to immediately check documentation and approvals and to have a fire safety assessment conducted by a fire protection expert.
  • Making checks for cladding compulsory and requiring the owners to report back on whether cladding is in situ on residential buildings.
  • Strengthening fire safety legislation through amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and Regulation (EP&A Act and Reg) to improve the building certification system and strengthen development compliance requirements.
  • Expediting other reforms to building regulation and certification.
  • Cracking down on unsafe building products by introducing legislation that prevents their importation, supply, selling or use.

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External wall cladding 

Cladding is a term commonly used to describe the material used to cover the external wall or roof of a building. Common materials used for cladding include weatherboard, lightweight panels (such as aluminium composite panels) and metal sheeting.

Aluminium composite panels are generally two thin sheets of aluminium separated by a core material. The core can consist of materials such as polyethylene or mineral fibre which will determine the combustibility of the product and its potential to promote the spread of fire.

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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Further information 

Building developers and owners will be notified if their building is identified in the data audit. Residents seeking further information should contact their building owner or manager.

A number of local councils are also taking action to respond to fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding. Residents can find out if their local council has taken action by contacting their council directly. For contact information, visit the ‘Find my council’ page on the Office of Local Government website: www.olg.nsw.gov.au/find-my-council

If owners and occupants of buildings are concerned about fire safety in their building, they should take action without delay. No-one should wait to be contacted by the State Government or their local council if they have concerns about their building. 

More information is contained in the media release and fact sheet (PDF size: 202kb).

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