Cladding blamed for the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 is cleared for use in Australia despite warnings it is ‘like a firecracker’
Daily Mail
By Josh Hanrahan for Daily Mail Australia
21 June 2017

The controversial cladding blamed for fuelling the devastating Grenfell Tower inferno is fine to use on high-rise apartments in Australia, a top building firm claims.

In the wake of last week's horrific blaze which ripped through the west-London block claiming at least 79 lives, witnesses told how cladding seemed to accelerate the fire.

After the blaze, it was revealed that a Melbourne apartment block which caught fire in 2014 was covered in a similar brand of Chinese-made cladding.

While some have called for the product to be banned worldwide, the builder of the Melbourne high-rise that caught alight says the cladding was cleared by experts and is safe to use, The Australian reports.

In late-2014, more than 400 residents were forced to flee for their lives in the middle of the night as the Lacrosse building, in Melbourne's Docklands precinct, caught fire.

An estimated $15 million damage was caused to the high-rise complex, with pictures of the blaze bearing an eerie resemblance to the horrifying scenes at Grenfell Tower in London.

Following the blaze, started by a lit cigarette left on a balcony, an investigation found around half of buildings in Melbourne used the Alcuobest product.

It found the cladding should never have been put in the building and ordered it to be taken down by mid-2018, despite builders being given the OK to use it.

But LU Simon, the firm who built the Lacrosse building, claimed in a VCAT hearing the cladding was tested and dubbed 'suitable for use on the external cladding of buildings including high-rise residential and commercial buildings'.

'The use of Alucobest (or similar composite aluminium panel products such as Alucobond) in buildings of this type has been a common practice across Australia for at least 40 years,' the documents reportedly read.

Lacrosse after the fire

'Until the (Lacrosse) fire incident... it was standard practice in the industry to use aluminium composite panels on the external walls of buildings... across all the states and territories of Australia.

'The use of such panels has been routinely approved by the MFB, independent fire engineers, architects and building surveyors.'

But despite the claims of LU Simon, another building expert last week claimed the cladding used in the Lacrosse building and Grenfell Tower was 'like a firecracker'

'This product is so flammable, it's like a firecracker,' Phil Dwyer, president of Builders Collective of Australia, told 3AW.

looking to buy an apartment ... ask one question

Mr Dwyer said anyone looking to buy an apartment should ask one question: 'Is there any combustible cladding on the building?'

'Don't buy it, don't take the risk... It's just not worth it.'

The death toll from the Grenfell Tower inferno so far stands at 79, with authorities still searching the building's rubble. 

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