Combustible cladding may be causing major headaches for building owners and corporations, however, residents and owners are the ones really feeling the impact. Recently, residents of an apartment building in St Kilda were left reeling, after they were informed they had less than two weeks to evacuate their apartments, until the fire safety concerns were addressed.

The building could not be lived in past May 21, and the complex’s owners were told that they would need a fire safety warden onsite daily during those two weeks, to help give the residents enough time to evacuate the building. The evacuation was ordered by the Port Phillip Council municipal building surveyor, over fire safety concerns after the building was branded ‘inhabitable’, due to the building’s highly flammable cladding.

The Harsh Reality

Many of the apartment’s residents were clearly unaware of the cladding issues when they signed their lease or purchased their property. For many of the occupants, especially the renters, this was a massive blow, with very little time to find accommodation in an already tough rental market. With many unable to afford the cost of moving and paying for a new bond and advanced rent, many residents stated that they were unsure if they could get another roof over their heads in time. They would be left with no option but to rely on family and friends if they were unable to find a new home in time.

Why Combustible Cladding Is Such a Problem

The issue of combustible cladding has become a major cause for concern in the past 10 years. With the 2014 fire at the Lacrosse Building in Melbourne, and the tragic 2017 fire at London’s Grenfell Tower which claimed 72 lives, governments around the world have applied tougher laws and regulations for buildings with combustible cladding. Through these examples including the Lacrosse Building and Grenfell Tower, it has been found that buildings which have combustible expanded polystyrene panels installed as the external cladding pose an undue risk of fire spreading across the facade of the building.

Victoria Takes A Tough Stance Against Combustible Cladding

In response to the discovery of combustible cladding in multiple buildings across Victoria, and the fire risks they pose, the order on this particular St Kilda apartment block, was enacted as part of a wider audit of buildings across the state. Conducted by the Victorian Building Authority on behalf of the Victorian Government, the Victorian Statewide Cladding Audit aims to investigate and address the use of non-compliant building materials in Victoria. It should be noted that many of the buildings facing evacuation were those that received occupancy permits in the early 2000s, which were issued by private building surveyors, and not local councils.

What Can You Do If You Are A Building Owner?

Some of the cladding that has been found to be combustible includes expanded polystyrene and aluminium composite panels with a polyethylene core. Whether you are certain of what your building facade is made of or not, cladding and the risks associated with it, can be a minefield. It is best to get it sorted out now, before it becomes a larger issue for you or your tenants. To see if your building is in need of cladding rectification, or for further information, contact the professional team today at MAZ Group.