Exterior view an apartment development with building cladding

Safe cladding is just one component of a safe building

It’s a sad reality that the terms ‘cladding safety’, ‘building cladding’, and ‘fire safe cladding’ are now synonymous with the tragic Grenfell Towers fire in London in 2017, and the significant fire of the Neo 200 building in Melbourne, both fuelled by combustible cladding insulation.

What is often overlooked surrounding these cladding disasters, however, is that Grenfell Towers saw 71 lives lost, while here in Australia, everyone survived. Australia’s stringent regulations ensure that even in the event of a fire, automatic sprinklers, alarm systems, and accessible fire exits help tenants, residents and visitors evacuate a building safely and quickly.

Cladding safety is an extremely complex, challenging and critical topic, however it’s not an issue that will resolve overnight. While experts collaborate and deliberate on this matter, building developers and property managers still have a number of fire safety decisions to make that are within their control and can be implemented quickly.

As the Neo 200 fire proves, if the right fire safety systems are in place, lives can still be saved – even in the event of a fire that is being fueled by unsafe cladding.

 

Assessing your fire safety readiness beyond building cladding

In Australia, we have seen the pivotal role of well-maintained wet fire systems (such as sprinklers) and dry fire systems (like smoke detectors) in preventing wide-scale disasters.

As our duty of care to our clients and community, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you of the preventative measures you can take today to secure your building and improve the safety of everyone inside. Building cladding considerations are just one component of fire safety measures you can take.

Is your residential or commercial building (new or established) equipped to handle a fire? Answer the questions in our quick quiz below to get your score and see how your fire safety measures stack up. For every ‘yes’, score yourself one point.

 

Fire safety quiz

  1. Do you have an emergency evacuation plan?
  2. Was your emergency evacuation plan reviewed in the last two years?
  3. Has your fire safety equipment had a maintenance check in the last 12 months?
  4. Do you have a maintenance schedule in place (one that is adhered to?)
  5. Do you have appropriate signage around your building, including an emergency map, installed in easy-to-view locations?
  6. Do you have enough fire blankets and fire extinguishers throughout your building?
  7. Do you have a smoke alarm installed in every room of the building, as well as in the corridors?
  8. Are fire doors installed within your building?
  9. Is your staff trained in fire safety?
  10. Have you practiced evacuation procedures?

For each question you answered with a ‘yes’, give yourself one point.

Your ranking:

  • 0-4 – Poor fire safety – Time to reassess ASAP for building integrity and the safety of occupants
  • 5-7 – Passable fire safety – Room for improvement
  • 8-9 – Good fire safety – Great effort – what will get you to the perfect 10?
  • 10 – Exceptional fire safety – just don’t become complacent!

Remember that even if you rank a perfect 10 out of 10 score, you still need to stay on top of your fire safety measures and not become complacent. If you received a poor or average ranking, don’t worry – you are already taking proactive measures to improve your situation by reading this article, and there’s plenty we can do to help you become more compliant quickly.

Green emergency exit sign on a building corridor ceiling

 

Control what’s within your control

As you can see from the quiz, there are a number of ways you can prevent the effects of a fire – the goal is to ensure you are across all of these methods.

Critical defects can appear on fire systems in various places, and inappropriate cladding is just one of these areas.

Fires can spread for any number of reasons, but if you create a safe environment for the people living and working in your building, then you will reduce the risk of a preventable disaster significantly.

The good news is that there are a number of different safety measures you can take – such as ensuring the proper safety plans are in place, the right fire safety equipment is installed and your staff are adequately trained – to make sure a tragedy never occurs.

A green level 5 sign in a building fire stairway

 

Discuss your fire safety measures with us

Are you in need of a fire safety overview? Get in touch with us today and we can work together to ensure you are compliant with all safety regulations.

Call us now with your assessment result and see how we can help get you to a perfect score and keep you there.