Cladding is the outside skin of a building.
It is used to provide thermal insulation and weather resistance, and to improve the appearance of buildings.
While there are numerous types and brands of cladding available, there are two types of combustible cladding that may pose a risk for building occupants, as well as the community more broadly.
In the event of a fire, these materials may increase the rate at which a fire spreads, posing an increased risk to building occupants and those in the immediate vicinity.
Statewide Cladding Audit
The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) is leading a statewide audit on behalf of the Victorian Government.
- Apartment buildings, motels and hotels (three storeys and above)
- Buildings where Victorians gather as a large group, such as sporting areas; and
- Private schools, private hospitals and aged care facilities (two storeys and above).
Since December 2017, over 2200 buildings have been inspected and assessed through the audit.
The Minister for Planning has made the VBA the Municipal Building Surveyor (MBS) for over 300 buildings assessed as having the highest risk from cladding. In these cases, the VBA has assumed the functions of the MBS from the relevant local government.
Through the Statewide Cladding Audit, the VBA works with owners and owners corporations to identify buildings with combustible cladding and assess the relative risks for these buildings.
Cladding fire safety tips
Just because your building has cladding, doesn’t necessarily mean it is unsafe, or risks are considered unacceptable.
If occupant safety is at risk, a building notice or emergency order may be issued as part of Statewide Cladding Audit’s processes.
These often require immediate action to improve safety measures; such as:
- installing smoke alarms
- fixing/unlocking emergency exits
- removing ignition sources
- Steps you can take to reduce the risk from cladding
- Extinguish cigarettes safely
- Keeping hallways clear to avoid obstructing occupants needing to exit the building
- Not covering air-conditioning units with clothes or other materials
- Keeping balconies clear of clutter and material such as clothing, boxes or rubbish
- Ensuring barbecues and heaters are not used on balconies, or near potentially combustible material.
- Ensuring smoke alarms inside apartments are not covered or disconnected
- Keeping fire stairwells and landings clear and not to store items within them
If you are an owner or owners corporation you are also legally required to:
- Ensure that the building’s Essential Safety Measures, such as fire detection and alarm systems and fire extinguishers, have been maintained and can operate during an emergency
- Keep fire doors clear of obstructions, closed and unlocked at all times
- Ensure all occupiers know the building’s evacuation plan and fire safety procedures
Reviewed 21 July 2019