Hos­pi­tal still on fire risk reg­is­ter

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - DANIEL BATE­MAN daniel.bate­man@news.com.au

CAIRNS Hos­pi­tal has been added to a list of Queens­land build­ings that may be a fire haz­ard – de­spite the State Gov­ern­ment say­ing two months ago there was no dan­ger.

Queens­land Health con­firmed yes­ter­day the hos­pi­tal would be as­sessed as part of a list of build­ings across the state that had been flagged as po­ten­tially con­tain­ing com­bustible cladding.

The au­dit is a re­sponse to Lon­don’s Gren­fell Tower dis­as­ter, which claimed the lives of 80 peo­ple and in­jured at least 70 on June 14.

In mid-June, the depart­ment told the Cairns Post that the ex­te­rior cladding, which had been used through­out Cairns Hos­pi­tal dur­ing its re­cent re­de­vel­op­ment, was not a fire haz­ard.

A depart­ment spokes­woman yes­ter­day as­sured the hos­pi­tal re­mained safe, and the au­dit was just a pre­cau­tion.

“The cladding on the hos­pi­tal has not been iden­ti­fied as com­bustible,” she said.

“We’re act­ing sen­si­bly and cau­tiously by as­sess­ing every pub­lic hos­pi­tal in Queens­land known to have ex­ter­nal cladding, and Cairns Base Hos­pi­tal is one of those.

“This assess­ment is be­ing un­der­taken to con­firm the cladding is fire re­tar­dant.

“It ab­so­lutely does not mean is­sues with the cladding have been iden­ti­fied.”

The gov­ern­ment has de- clined to re­lease any de­tails of other build­ings in­cluded in the au­dit, other than Lady Ci­lento Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane, and Mackay Hos­pi­tal.

It will not say how long the assess­ment is likely to take.

Pub­lic Works Min­is­ter Mick De Brenni said re­cent checks of de­sign and con­struc­tion records and phys­i­cal in­spec­tions were not show­ing any prob­lems at the three hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing Cairns.

“We will con­tinue our au­dit, check­ing de­sign and con­struc­tion records and phys­i­cally in­spect­ing hos­pi­tals with cladding, so that we can con­firm that this triple-check con­tin­ues to rule each of them out,” he said.

“If we find some­thing un­ex­pected, we will pro­ceed to fur­ther test­ing and if this hap­pens, we will an­nounce it.

“Queens­land’s build­ings are safe.”

Stephen Ben­nett, the State Op­po­si­tion’s hous­ing and pub­lic works spokesman, said the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment needed to an­swer ex­actly what’s be­ing done to fully as­sess pub­lic safety and deal with any fire risks.

“The peo­ple of Cairns de­serve to know if there are other build­ings in their city that the Gov­ern­ment is keep­ing quiet,” he said.

“Why is this La­bor Gov­ern­ment cov­er­ing this up?

“Queens­lan­ders who are liv­ing and work­ing in th­ese build­ings de­serve to know the risks and what’s be­ing done to re­dress those risks.”

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