In response to the Grenfell Tower fire in London, an inter-agency Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce was created to ensure that fire safety for residential buildings are prioritised and properly addressed.
This taskforce is 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 work done so far
You can download a fact sheet that briefly explains this information.
From June 2017, The Data Analytics Centre and the Department of Planning and Environment started audits of 185,000 building records to identify sites across NSW that may have had cladding installed.
Starting July 2017, Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has inspected more than 4,000 buildings for the presence of potentially combustible cladding. For an up to date breakdown of the results please refer to the latest Taskforce Update under ‘Related links’.
For each potentially high-risk buildings, FRNSW has drawn up rapid response plans to be used in the event of a fire.
FRNSW will continue to visit any new properties identified as possibly having combustible cladding.
Letters to owners and residents
From July 2017 the Taskforce has sent over 33,000 letters to building owners and residents with information on how to ensure cladding is properly assessed and how owners and residents can prioritise fire safety and reduce the risks of a fire.
Letters to councils
Since December 2017, for each of the buildings identified as potentially high-risk, the Commissioner for Fire & Rescue NSW has written to the relevant local councils, requiring councils’ authorised fire officers to inspect the building to assess its provisions for fire safety, and report back to FRNSW.
Changes to legislation
In October 2017 the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Fire Safety and Building Certification) Regulation 2017 began. The Regulation strengthens fire safety certification for new and existing buildings and helps improve the checking in the design, approval, construction and maintenance phases of the building life cycle.
In December 2017 the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017 came into effect. The Act introduced new laws to prevent the use of unsafe building products. The legislation supports laws that are already in place to promote the safety of residential, commercial and industrial buildings in NSW.
In February 2018 the Cladding Taskforce launched an advertising campaign outlining the steps occupants can take to ensure they have the information and expert advice they need to make sure their building is safe.
In August 2018 the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner issued a building product use ban under section 9(1) of the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017. The ban prohibits the use of aluminium composite panels (ACP) with a core comprised of greater than 30% polyethylene on certain types of buildings.
For more information on the ban see the NSW Fair Trading website.
Guidance material for councils
The Guide for the assessment of buildings with combustible cladding is a new publication by the NSW Government to assist councils and other authorities to undertake or review combustible cladding risk assessments and determine next steps. It has links to assessment tools and methodologies.
The combustible cladding building assessment flowchart is an example process tool that goes through the steps from initial assessment to rectification. It is provided for guidance only and Councils should use their own discretion.
View the Taskforce Terms of Reference.
For more information read these media releases:
- Fire safety reforms to put consumers first
- Taskforce update 14 February 2019
- Taskforce update 6 September 2018
- Taskforce update 4 June 2018
- Taskforce update 22 March 2018
- Taskforce update 15 December 2017
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.