WA audit of Grenfell-style cladding to widen
An audit of Perth buildings to check whether Grenfell Tower-style cladding has been used will be widened following the discovery of combustible external panels on an apartment block in Leederville.
WA building commissioner Peter Gow said there was “reasonable cause for concern” that it will be found in other structures in the metropolitan area.
External cladding similar to the deadly material used on the Grenfell Tower block in London was discovered on a four-storey accommodation block for homeless youth in the inner-Perth suburb of Leederville earlier this week.
The British Government conducting safety checks on an estimated 600 high-rise buildings in England after at least 79 people died when fire consumed the London tower earlier this month.
Exterior cladding panels added during a recent refurbishment of Grenfell have been blamed for the rapid spread of the blaze.
A quick guide to cladding
- Aluminium composite external cladding has been identified as a potential risk
- External walls of buildings should not be made of material which can contribute to the spread of fire
- Regulators say building approval process in WA different to Victoria, and the form of construction of units is often different
- If shiny aluminium panels are found, the materials used should be able to be checked via the builder or the local council
- Aluminium panels inspected by the Building Commission in the Perth CBD so far were found to have a mineral component, and were fire resistant
Housing Minister Peter Tinley has ordered an audit of public housing in the wake of the Leederville discovery, and Mr Gow said a wide range of other building would also be examined.
Following the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne in 2014, the WA Building Commission looked at high-rise buildings in Perth’s CBD and Victoria Park area that could have been considered high-risk.
No dangerous cladding was found, but Mr Gow said the audit was expanding to other areas and other types of structures.
“I think there is reasonable cause for concern that there may be the inflammable type of aluminium composite panels that have been used in [other WA] buildings,” Mr Gow said.
“We’ve already found one, I suspect we will find more.
“Certainly we’re looking now much more broadly, Grenfell showed us there is a risk from refurbished buildings so we need to look at those as well.
“There’s a much greater level of public concern that we need to make sure we’re on top of.”
He said there could be wide implications if several non-complying buildings were found.
“It gets very messy and that’s my concern here, if we find a number of non-complying buildings, we’ll end up with costs for owners, costs for local governments who have to prosecute, etcetera, but it’s got to be done,” Mr Gow said.
Mr Tinley said tens of thousands of Housing Department and community housing properties were being checked.
“I’ve asked the department to go through and have a look at all of our assets to see which ones are a higher risk or a lower risk, particularly around non-compliant building products, because there may be something other than cladding — fire doors or the like,” he said.
Mr Tinley said anyone who did not feel safe would be helped to move.
Foyer Oxford’s external cladding does not comply with building codes. (Supplied: Foundation Housing)