Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding

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

On 16 June 2017, The NSW Government began implementing a co-ordinated, whole of government policy response to the Grenfell Tower fire in London which included the creation of an inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce.

This taskforce is being led by the Department of Finance, Service and Innovation and includes representatives from NSW Fair Trading, the Data Analytics Centre, 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 is leading the NSW Government’s efforts to ensure that fire safety requirements for residential buildings are prioritised and properly addressed through a whole of government action plan for dealing with the fire safety risks associated with external wall cladding.

Taskforce activities so far

On 28 July 2017 the Government announced comprehensive reforms being carried out by the Taskforce to further strengthen fire safety focussing firstly on residential buildings, including:

  • Conducting an audit to identify buildings that are most likely to contain aluminium cladding and other types of cladding and providing information to owners and managers of those buildings.
  • Fire & Rescue NSW inspecting every building identified to operationally assess the cladding and determine if further action is required. Where further action is needed, referring the buildings to the relevant consent authority such as the local council.
  • Notifying all owners and occupants of residential buildings if the building requires further action.
  • Introducing Regulations requiring owners to register their building if it has cladding installed.
  • 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.

For more information read this fact sheet or these media releases:

Cladding ban

Some types of cladding made from aluminium composite panels (also called ACPs) have been banned in NSW due to fire safety risks.

Cladding is often used to cover the external walls of a building.  A growing number of modern buildings utilise cladding made up of composite panels, such as aluminium composite panels.  These are generally two thin sheets of aluminium separated by a core material. The core can be polyethylene (PE), mineral fibre or a combination of both, and can contribute to how easily the cladding burns and its potential to spread fire.

ACP with a core comprised of more than 30% PE by mass is banned for use in any external cladding, external wall, external insulation, facade or rendered finish in buildings with the following classification:

  • Type A construction as defined in the Building Code of Australia:

    • Class 2, 3 and 9 buildings with a rise in storeys of three or more
    • Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 buildings with a rise in storeys of four or more
  • Type B construction as defined in the Building Code of Australia:
    • Class 2, 3 and 9 buildings with a rise in storeys of two or more
    • Class 5, 6, 7 and 8 buildings with a rise in storeys of three or more

It is important to remember that the presence of aluminium composite panels on a building does not mean it is non-compliant or a safety hazard. The configuration of the cladding, how it has been used and other fire safety measures installed in the building will also be relevant.

For more information visit the Aluminium composite panels ban page on the Fair Trading website.

Further information

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.

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.