The Property Council of Australia (PCA) wants a 100 percent ban on the further use and sale of polyethylene (PE) core aluminium composite panels, as well as the systematic auditing of existing buildings that carry any cladding.
“While there are some cladding products that are fire retardant, PE is not. Current codes allow this product to be used safely within appropriate fire safety systems, engineered and signed off by fire safety experts. However, we share the same desire as government to prioritise public safety in light of valid concerns about the use of PE cladding, says Ken Morrison, CEO of the PCA.
“We believe clear-eyed systematic audits are also vital. Where PE cladding is found in existing buildings, we expect most buildings will be declared safe given other safety features within the building. Where safety issues are found, they should be addressed as a priority. These audits will assess the buildings on a case-by-case basis.”
Morrison says that the industry is working with government on their own audits of large multi-storey buildings.
At the same time, the PCAs 2200 national members have reported very few instances of any actual safety risk.
“Fire safety systems are never just one component. Containing and retarding a fire depends on design, materials, and safety features that interlock. In undertaking a review, the inter-relationship of the PE cladding with the rest of the building can be appropriately assessed,” he says.
Morrison’s comments come after experts have warned that there may be more than 5,000 buildings in Victoria and a further 2500 structures in NSW that are thought to contain non-compliant PE cladding.
In light of this, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has also reiterated their warning that some insurers may refuse to cover buildings and apartments that carry PE cladding.
Buildings that carry PE cladding, “are certainly going to struggle to get insurance,” the ICAs Campbell Fuller told the ABC recently.