According to Queensland Public Works minister Mick de Brenni, it could take until early 2019 to completely remove and replace all the external façade cladding on the Princess Alexandra Hospital, which has been identified as being potentially flammable.
While he says he wants the work to start as soon as possible, de Brenni also notes that the hospital has 13,000 fully-functioning fire sprinklers, and thereby has assured the public the hospital was safe and would continue operating as normal during the works.
He also pointed out that this situation was due to the fact that there had been a systematic failure of Australia's building regulation system.
"I have made this a priority of regulators at a state and territory level, and Queensland will make sure there is comprehensive reform to the building codes system including the Australian Building Codes Board, the National Construction Code and building standards," he says.
According to reports, the number of panels that will need removal is equal to the size of two and a half football fields, or about 24,000sqm of cladding.
The state government says it has started looking for a building contractor to remove the cladding, a process will which will take up to 18 months to complete.
Following the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in June in the UK which saw the loss of 80 lives, there has been a frenzy of activity across Australia to ensure that buildings do not contain any flammable cladding materials.
However according to an investigative report on building cladding on the ABCs Four Corners, this could prove to be a long and arduous task as there are no exact figures on how many buildings there are across Australia that carry potentially flammable aluminium and PE cladding panels.
Accoridng to a non-conforming building products (NCBP) Audit Taskforce spokesperson, "Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital was the first Queensland Government owned building in Queensland to have cladding removed for testing. A different product from Logan Hospital’s Expansion Block has also had preliminary testing and a more extensive sample will be removed to undergo further testing to determine its properties."
"The Audit Taskforce is continuing to investigate a number of other government and privately-owned buildings to identify if they have potentially combustible cladding products installed. However, it is important to note that just because a building is being investigated, does not mean it poses any risk to the community," says the spokesperson.
"The investigation of these materials is a methodical, time consuming process to ensure the best outcome is reached, however as a precaution in any instance where there is possible cause for concern, QFES have been consulted and together with the building owner have implemented increased vigilance and response arrangements."