Flammable cladding

Owners, tenants, and body corporates have been abandoned and, at least in Victoria, have been left with the responsibility of replacing flammable cladding on buildings. It seems to me ACL (Australian Consumer Law) should be applicable to this faulty product and suppliers (including builders and cladding manufacturers), and any authorised persons or bodies who have approved the use of such cladding should be held responsible and be required to “foot-the-bill” for appropriate cladding replacement. The situation with flammable cladding could be compared with the faulty Takata airbag situation where the car builders and airbag manufacturers are being held responsible for faulty airbag replacement. Hopefully it will not take another catastrophic building fire involving flammable cladding to make the suppliers, etc. responsible for its remediation!


Is this a mandated requirement, that being owners of building must replace claddng which is deemed not to comply with flammability ratings?

I would have thought that a risk assesment would need to be carried out to determine if unreasonable risks exist based on the specific building and other fire control measures which may be installed (such as automatic fire sprinkler systems, which incidently did not exist in the Grenfell fire…the fire that raised the risks of flammable cladding on buildings).

Also, most houses and low rise building in many parts of Australia have historically been clad with a flammable materials, namely timber or timber products (sheeting for example).

If flammability of cladding is the issue and mandated for replacement, why single out this form of cladding when other flammable cladding materials have been used widely nationwide? In such case is it a political knee jerk reaction?


I think it is to do with the use of these materials in high rise developments.

You are right that timber and other flammable cladding materials have been use to build both here and overseas, but I think that their use as a cladding is restricted to buildings with only a couple of floors, not high rises.

The problem is that the cladding materials now being investigated are used on buildings that are either so tall, or in locations that the fire services can not reach with their current equipment. This means that they have no way to combat the fire and stop it spreading. Sprinkler systems and fire hoses and extinguishers are all internal to high rise buildings, not external so are no use in stopping the external fire spreading. Thus these cladding fires can still cause considerable damage to the building on fire, and spread burning debris far and wide, possibly to buildings that do not have sprinkler systems etc.


If meeting a flammability rating is a mandatory would not the occupiers be remiss in continuing to live in a dangerous high rise? It is common sense they would want to remediate dodgy cladding that could cost them their lives in a less than worst case fire.

I see a difference between a high rise and a 1-2 floor building. FWIW a rellie bought a unit on the 7th floor of a high rise because it was as high as the firies’ ladders could reach at the time should he need to be plucked from a burning building, and he made sure about the construction, building standards, and sprinklers, pre-purchase!

An element not in the headlines is whether the cladding standards were mandatory or advisory. If they were advisory one might ponder why and whose benefit that was for. If they were mandatory but ignored, I am on the side that thinks the parties responsible for specifying and then approving the cladding should be held responsible for rectification.


(Edit: I had written this, got called away, and forgot to hit the send button.)
You are correct if the products do not meet the relevant building codes. IF the product did comply, then they can not be held responsible.

If I lived in a building that had flammable cladding, I would be calling in experts to assess the risk to the occupants.

If the cladding is deemed to be an unacceptable risk to the occupants of a building, then perhaps some sort of temporary measures such as external sprinklers could be installed until it is sorted out who pays to have the material replaced.


Evidently not:

A review by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) found the building’s cladding was not compliant with combustibility requirements,


For Victoria, the following government websites provide the current state of play. Other states have websites dedicated to flammable cladding If I am reading the information correctky, it appears that the replacement of the cladding is not manditory, but may be up to the owners of the building (or body corporate). Some states however require buildings with flammable cladding to be placed on a special register. I suspect that building owners would need to commission suitably qualified and experienced persons to determine if flammable cladding exists on tbeir building. This would be a cost, as a minimum, to the owners.


It would be intersting to see if the insurance industry changes its insurance covers based on any cladding risks. Such may force some buildings to have amelioration measures in relation to any flammable cladding installed.


My reading is that government has stated non-compliant products have been used, self regulation has failed miserably, but since much of Australia is owned and operated by property developers, too bad for the buyers and owners and self regulation can be improved. A bit of a kerfuffle that they expect will go away for everyone not directly affected, and life will go on. Pretty damning on government from my perspective.

edit: WTF?!


I appears that rather than removing all the cladding, walls can be modified to install ‘vertical firebreaks’ which prevents a fire in the cladding spreading. It is reported as being just as safe as replacing the cladding with a less flammable materials, but significantly cheaper.

This may be an option for those building owners which are concerned about the fire risk, but also are concerned with the cost of cladding replacement.