Fire reforms to create safer buildings


Friday, 04 August, 2017


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Extensive fire safety reforms have been developed by the NSW government, following the Grenfell Tower disaster in London.

The government’s 10-point plan is designed to keep people safe in their homes, while new legislation will prohibit the sale and use of unsafe building products.

“This package will protect consumers from building products that are inherently dangerous or that are being advertised for use in a way that makes them dangerous,” said Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean.

Every part of the supply and distribution chain will be responsible for making sure these products are only used for their intended purpose.

Where a dangerous product has been used, the legislation will allow for rectification orders as well as prosecution for people caught supplying, selling or using them.

The 10-point plan includes:

  1. A comprehensive building product safety scheme that would prevent the use of dangerous products on buildings.
  2. Identifying buildings that might have aluminium or other cladding.
  3. Writing to the building/strata managers or owners of those buildings to encourage them to inspect the cladding and installation of cladding, if it exists.
  4. NSW Fire and Rescue visiting all buildings on the list, as part of a fire safety education program. This will allow them to gather information they need to prepare for a potential fire at that building, and provide additional information to building owners.
  5. Creating a new fire safety declaration that will require high-rise residential buildings to inform state and local governments, as well as NSW Fire and Rescue, if their building has cladding on it.
  6. Expediting reforms to toughen up the regulation of building certifiers.
  7. Reforms to create an industry-based accreditation, which will ensure only skilled and experienced people are able to undertake fire safety inspections.
  8. Establishing a whole of government taskforce that will coordinate and roll out the reforms.
  9. Instructing all government departments to audit their buildings and determine if they have aluminium cladding, with an initial focus on social housing.
  10. Writing to local councils to follow up on correspondence they received from the state government, after Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower fire in 2016.

Many of these elements are already underway, including the establishment of the taskforce.

“We had already planned some of the reforms as a part of our Consumers First package, but have expedited them to better protect NSW families in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire,” said Kean.

“We will also consider the ongoing investigation into that blaze and make further changes, if needed, that will continue to put consumers first.”

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/svengine

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