Govt build­ings a fire risk

Midwest Times - - NEWS - John Flint

The new head of­fice for WA’s Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices is among seven gov­ern­ment build­ings re­quir­ing re­me­dial works be­cause cladding poses a fire haz­ard.

An­other 122 build­ings are un­der­go­ing de­tailed risk as­sess­ments as part of an au­dit by the WA Build­ing Com­mis­sion in the wake of Lon­don’s Gren­fell Tower blaze, which killed 72 peo­ple in June last year.

“For se­cu­rity rea­sons and to min­imise the risk of an ar­son at­tack, these build­ings will not be iden­ti­fied while this work is un­der way,” a Gov­ern­ment spokesman said last Fri­day.

Two of the sites are sport­ing or en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties un­der Venues-West con­trol.

“The pub­lic can be as­sured that spe­cific, up-to-date emer­gency man­age­ment plans are in place where re­quired,” a Venues-West spokes­woman said.

“These mat­ters do not present any spe­cial risk to pub­lic safety, and sched­uled events will con­tinue as planned.”

New reg­u­la­tions to ban po­ten­tially haz­ardous cladding in WA take ef­fect this week.

Work to re­place ex­ter­nal cladding on the fa­cade of DFES’ Emer­gency Ser­vices Com­plex in Cock­burn is due to start be­fore De­cem­ber at an es­ti­mated cost of more than $250,000. The other six build­ings so far iden­ti­fied as re­quir­ing re­me­dial works in­clude Foyer Ox­ford in Leed­erville, which pro­vides youth ac­com­mo­da­tion, Rock­ing­ham Hospi­tal, three struc­tures at Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity and one at Curtin Uni­ver­sity.

“West­ern Aus­tralians can be re­as­sured that only a few build­ings so far have been iden­ti­fied as re­quir­ing re­me­dial ac­tion and while this work is on­go­ing, de­part­ments and agencies have been in­structed to en­sure all build­ings that are be­ing as­sessed have up-to-date and func­tion­ing, and if nec­es­sary en­hanced, fire and emer­gency man­age­ment plans,” the spokesman said.

“The pres­ence of cladding, in­clud­ing po­ten­tially com­bustible types such as alu­minium com­pos­ite pan­els, is not nec­es­sar­ily cause for con­cern.

“It de­pends on how and where the cladding is used — and in some cases they are only used for aes­thet­ics — if it’s dam­aged and if it ad­heres to safety codes and stan­dards.”

Some 1964 gov­ern­ment build­ings have been re­viewed in the au­dit. Of these, 1785 were cleared af­ter an ini­tial re­view and 37 have been cleared af­ter a de­tailed risk as­sess­ment.

“A de­tailed fire-risk as­sess­ment is un­der­taken as a pre­cau­tion to tech­ni­cally as­sess whether or not the cladding is po­ten­tially com­bustible in the way it has been used,” the spokesman said.

“A fire en­gi­neer un­der­takes the as­sess­ment to de­ter­mine the as­so­ci­ated risk and rec­om­mends if any re­me­di­a­tion is re­quired.”

A Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity spokesman said a de­tailed risk as­sess­ment of its cam­puses “iden­ti­fied a small num­ber of cladding pan­els on the ex­ter­nal fa­cades of two groundlevel toi­let blocks and one build­ing en­try that re­quire re­me­dial ac­tion”.

“Work to re­move and re­place these ex­te­rior pan­els with non-com­bustible ma­te­rial will com­mence in the com­ing weeks,” the spokesman said.

Hos­pi­tals un­der­go­ing de­tailed risk as­sess­ments in­clude Fiona Stan­ley Hospi­tal, King Ed­ward Memo­rial Hospi­tal, QEII, Os­borne Park Hospi­tal, Ku­nunurra District Health Ser­vice, Bus­sel­ton Health Cam­pus, Royal Perth Hospi­tal’s A Block ex­ten­sion and St John of God Mid­land Pub­lic Hospi­tal.

DFES’ act­ing ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor cor­po­rate ser­vices Richard Bur­nell said five ca­reer and vol­un­teer fire sta­tions had some aes­thetic alu­minium com­pos­ite pan­els that were low-risk and could be man­aged.

The sta­tions in­clude those at Ger­ald­ton, Al­bany, Bun­bury, and the South West Emer­gency He­li­copter Ser­vice Base.

“(They) have been con­structed with fire walls and in­clude other fire safety mea­sures in­clud­ing smoke alarms, fire doors, fire hy­drants, fire hose reels, emer­gency light­ing and exit sig­nage, and there­fore the cladding does not pose a high risk,” Mr Bur­nell said.

Pic­ture: Nic El­lis

New reg­u­la­tions to ban po­ten­tially haz­ardous cladding in WA take ef­fect this week.

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