Concerns about the use of ﬂammable building cladding on the Gold Coast
By: The LookUpStrata Team
12 July 2016
The Queensland government may be putting thousands of lives at risk,
with one leading figure claiming that unsafe building materials
imported from overseas – flammable building cladding – could see
high-rise buildings on the glitter strip “go up in flames”.
Safety should always be a government’s top priority, particularly in the high-rise building industry.
But Roger Dearing, a prominent member of the Unit Owner’s Association of Queensland, says many buildings that have been constructed on the Gold Coast have failed to comply with nationwide cladding standards.
cheap, Chinese-made flammable building cladding
Failing to consent to national cladding standards by using cheap,
Chinese-made flammable building cladding can contribute to a lack of
fire resistance, which could result in a skyscraper going up in flames
in a matter of minutes.
Dearing says certain strata buildings located within Queensland face
this very risk, as they contain a highly flammable material that has
been linked to serious high-rise fires in Melbourne and Dubai.
refusing to identify which buildings
The Government’s Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC)
has investigated and found non-compliant cladding material within at
least two Gold Coast high-rises – but is refusing to identify which
buildings are involved.
“The 2000 Childers death by fire referred to in the Bulletin article on
26 May, 2016 will pail into insignificance when a Queensland high-rise
goes up in flames,” Dearing says.
“The Queensland State Government has turned a blind eye to the incorrect use of buildings for many years,” he adds.
The use of non-compliant flammable aluminium cladding is unfortunately
nothing new in the world of construction, with certain developers
favouring cheaper materials imported from elsewhere and consequently
putting high-rise buildings at risk and, critically, the lives of
By failing to comply with the standards cladding, select Queensland
high-rises are not only at higher risk of severe fire damage, they are
also subject to increased damage via weathering.
transient (short term) holiday accommodation
“In addition to noncompliant cladding, there are buildings being used
for transient (short term) holiday accommodation, when they were built
for long term residential [usage] with lower standard fire alarm and
fire egress systems,” Dearing explains. Short term holiday
accommodation requires a higher level of fire safety systems as the
holiday residents don’t have the same emergency familiarity with the
building as do long term residents.
“The public are being kept in the dark to protect the Government’s
developer mates, who contribute huge funds to both political parties,
and are being treated as fools by the Government Departments who exist
to provide consumer protection.”
If more transparency and clarity isn’t forthcoming, Dearing worries we
could experience another fire tragedy similar to the Childers
Backpackers fire, which killed 15 people in the year 2000.
“This blind eye approach extended to all buildings until the tragic
loss of life by fire at Childers and Sandgate, is unacceptable” he says.
Brisbane compensation law expert Mark O’Connor, a director of Brisbane firm Bennett & Philp Lawyers, has also urged the QBCC to name the buildings involved.
“The building owners and occupants deserve to know if they are living
with a fire risk around them,” he said via a statement in June 2016.
“If the State knows of buildings with flammable material in them, its
silence only creates a climate of fear among all high rise owners and
occupants… The building owners should be told so that they can ensure
their fire evacuation systems are up to date.”
The use of unsafe flammable building cladding is a serious issue in
Melbourne, where it’s been identified that around 50 per cent of the
city’s high rise apartments contain non-compliant cladding.
In 2014, a smouldering cigarette on a 6th floor balcony raced up 13
floors of the building in only 11 minutes, due to the use of cladding
material, imported from China, that did not meet Australian standards
and should never have been used.
We have contacted the QBCC about this matter and are awaiting on a reply.
chapter previous next