05 February 2019
#Construction, Infrastructure & Projects
We wrap up the latest developments related to combustible cladding - one of the most contentious areas of the construction industry.
Neo200 - Another cladding fire in Melbourne
Melbournians awoke to another high-rise apartment fire on 4 February 2019, with preliminary investigations by the Melbourne Fire Brigade stating that the fire was probably caused by a cigarette left on a balcony. As with the Lacrosse fire, a cigarette ignited a fire which then burned through aluminium composite panels at a rapid rate. The fire quickly spread over five storeys, but in a relatively confined vertical strip where the combustible cladding appears to be located. Thankfully, nobody was seriously harmed, with only one person admitted to hospital for smoke inhalation in a stable condition.
Early reports have stated that the building had previously been inspected as part of Victoria’s ongoing cladding audit and declared a ‘moderate’ risk. Reports also state that Neo200 was built by LU Simon, which erected the Lacrosse building that caught fire in November 2014 and has been at the centre of Australian cladding issues ever since.
New South Wales cladding registration deadline looms
By 22 February 2019, owners of New South Wales apartment buildings, accommodation buildings and aged care and health care facilities above two storeys featuring combustible cladding must register their building with a specially created NSW government portal. This is part of the NSW government’s 10 point action plan to deal with the issue of combustible cladding. An FAQ for owners is available here. The FAQ states “the identification of these buildings will enable [Fire & Rescue] NSW to educate the occupants about fire prevention, and to respond appropriately in the event of a fire. Registration also assists councils in their role as building control authorities to determine what further actions (if any) are necessary.”
Impending decision in Lacrosse case
The Lacrosse case was heard in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal during September to October 2018, with hopes for a decision being delivered by Christmas 2018. The decision is yet to be handed down.
In that case, the owners corporation and owners sued the builder LU Simon, arising from the fire in November 2014 mentioned above. The architect, building surveyor and fire engineer for the Lacrosse building are also defendants in the proceeding.
The decision will be required reading for all participants in the construction industry and building owners affected by combustible cladding. It is hoped that the judgment will provide a measure of certainty for those bringing, considering, or facing legal proceedings.
We will provide a summary of the judgment as soon as possible after it is released.
Author: Lachlan Ingram
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