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Frequently asked questions 

Fire safety and external wall cladding 

What is cladding? 

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

Aluminium composite panels are generally two thin sheets of aluminium separated by a core material. The core can be polyethylene or mineral fibre and will determine how easily the cladding burns and its potential to spread fire.

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What is cladding used for? 

The primary roles of cladding are to:

  • control the infiltration of weather elements and the egress of water vapour
  • provide a durable and modern design look
  • provide sound and thermal insulation, fire resistance
  • create an external surface that is easier to clean in dusty, polluted or vandal-prone environments.

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Is cladding safe? 

The safety of aluminium composite cladding depends on how it has been used. If your building has cladding, it does not necessarily mean it is a safety hazard. The best way to find out if the cladding on your building is safe is to get a fire safety assessment from a fire safety professional.

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How many buildings contain cladding in NSW? 

Currently there is no known data source that provides a complete record of the location of buildings with aluminium composite cladding or other types of cladding. The NSW Data Analytics Centre conducted an audit that identified around 1,000 buildings in NSW that were likely to contain aluminium composite cladding or other types of cladding.

The Taskforce is working with Fire & Rescue NSW and local councils to identify all building that may have been built or renovated using aluminium cladding.

View the latest update on the work of the taskforce.

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My building was identified in the audit, does it mean it contains hazardous cladding? 

If your building is identified it means that the data audit suggests that cladding may have been used in the construction or renovation of the building.

The letters sent to building owners and occupants set out the steps that are recommended to make sure that the building is safe, and remains safe.

It is recommended that you immediately take the steps outlined on the Fire safety and external wall cladding page for tenants and home owners.

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Which buildings will require fire safety assessments? 

The NSW Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce recommends that all owners and managers of multi-storey buildings with external wall cladding take the recommended steps to make sure that the building is safe, and remains safe. Visit the Tenants and Home Owners  or Property Managers and Agents  page for more information.

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Who is responsible for organising the assessments? 

Whilst ensuring fire safety is the legal responsibility of the building owner, all occupants can help keep a building fire safe.

Building owners can ask their strata manager, building manager or property manager to assist in organising for the recommend steps to be taken.

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Who can conduct a fire safety assessment? 

A fire safety professional can conduct a fire safety assessment.

It is recommended that you only engage an experienced professional that is a ‘fire protection’ specialist or a ‘fire safety engineer’.

Most experienced professional will be members of industry professional bodies - Fire Protection Association Australia, the National Fire Industry Association or Engineers Australia.

Some fire safety services may also be able to be provided by building certifiers accredited in categories A1, A2, or C10. Details of accredited certifiers are available on the Building Professionals Board website www.bpb.nsw.gov.au.

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Who will pay for the assessments? 

Building owners are responsible for the cost of the fire safety assessment.

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If my building has been checked by a fire safety professional and needs further action, what happens next? 

If the professional advice indicates further action is needed, building owners should act immediately to implement the recommended steps to make the building safe. Visit the Tenants and Home Owners page for more information.

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If a building requires work to make it safe, who will pay for it? 

Building owners are responsible for organising and paying for any remediation work. Owners have the normal warranty and legal rights to seek assistance from the traders and suppliers responsible for the original work. Read more on building defects and resolving building disputes.

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What is the warranty period for building defects? 

For contracts signed on or after 1 February 2012 the statutory warranty period for major defects is six years, and two years for all other defects. For contracts entered into before 1 February 2012, the statutory warranty period was seven years for all building work defects.

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