Hospital still on fire risk register
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.”