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June 2017

Grenfell Tower apartment fire

The images of the Grenfell Tower burning in London on the 14 and15 June 2017 were devastating and serve as a reminder of the importance of minimum safety standards and of the need for those who have the power to do so, to enforce them. At the time of the fire, the apartment tower contained 127 apartments and 227 bedrooms.

Whilst the exact details of the fire are unknown at this time, reports suggest that the external aluminium composite panel (ACP) that was retrofitted as part of the building upgrade may have contributed to both the intensity and the rapid spread of the fire. This situation appears similar to the 2014 Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne (Lacrosse fire). It's important to note that following the Lacrosse fire, a significant amount of work has been done to address the issue of non-conforming products in Australia including:

  • The preparation of a Post Incident Analysis Report, published by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Victoria, which highlighted a range of product, practitioner, compliance and response issues.
  • The release of the External wall cladding report by the Victorian Building Authority, which detailed the findings of the state-wide ACP building audit conducted throughout 2015.
  • The formation of the Senior Officers Group (SOG) by the Building Ministers Forum (BMF). The SOG was tasked with developing options to address non-conforming products.
  • The establishment of a Senate Inquiry into non-conforming building products. A final report is due to be delivered in October 2017.
  • Agreement by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) to consider a third party product certifcation scheme and an holistic review of the fire safety provisions in the National Construction Code.
  • Commitment by the jurisdictions to enter into a data sharing arrangment with the Commonwealth.

The following guidelines and advisory information have also been published:

Responsibilities in South Australia

The Grenfell Tower fire in London is a reminder of the responsibility that the building sector has in ensuring that the community live in, work in and visit buildings that are safe. In relation to products, all parties have a role to play:  

  • when designing a building, specify products that comply and conform with mandatory requirements.
  • when assessing a building, ensure that product compliance and conformance are verified by evidence where required.
  • when inspecting a building, scrutinise the products on site to ensure they comply with approved documentation. If product substitution is suspected seek evidence that the substituted product complies. 
  • when constructing a building, build in accordance with the approved documentation. Products proposed as substitutions should be forwarded to the Council or private certifier for assessment.
  • when purchasing products, ask for trade literature that identifies which standards, if any, the product has been tested in accordance with.
  • when working on a building site, report substituted products or products that are suspected as non-conforming.

Relevant authorities should utilise the broad powers afforded to them under the Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008 to address issues of non-compliance and non-conformance; including the powers of the Building Fire Safety Committee.

In response to recommendations made by the SOG, each jurisdiction has developed a dedicated webpage that provides information to consumers, practitioners and the broader construction sector about the risks associated with non-conforming and non-complying building products.

The Government will shortly be announcing further action it intends to take to address product-based issues.

Public Consultation- Disability Inclusion Bill

The State Government is proposing new legislation that focusses on improving access and inclusion for South Australians with a disability. The Disability Inclusion Bill is currently on consultation. For more information and to provide feedback on the Bill vist the yourSAy website. Comments close Friday 30 June 2017.

Smoke alarms - Regulation 76B Update

New Australian Standard AS 3786

From 1 May 2017 all new applications for building rules consent will need to indicate that smoke alarms comply with Australian Standard 3786:2014 Smoke alarms using scattered light, transmitted light or ionization. 

Existing smoke alarms can continue to comply with the previous version (1993) of AS 3786 until the smoke alarm is required to be upgraded or replaced. 

Auditing of the building rules assessment function

Regulation 103A requires that relevant authorities must have undergone an audit of their building rules assessment function by 30 June 2017. The responsibility for auditing resides with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). In 2015 the audit function was postponed for a number of reasons including organisational restructuring and the departure of the Senior Compliance Auditor.

A number of relevant authorities have contacted DPTI seeking clarification about whether penalties will be imposed as a result of the audits not being undertaken. Given that the responsibility for auditing resides with DPTI, no fines, penalties or actions are proposed.

An announcement about the recommencement of the auditing program will be announced shortly.

If you require further clarification please email DPTI.PDBuildingBranch@sa.gov.au

Relocation of the Building Policy Unit

Relocation of the Building Policy Unit

In April 2017 the Building Policy Unit, along with a number of other units within the Development Division, relocated to 50 Flinders Street, Adelaide. All postal addresses and contact numbers remain the same.

A brief reminder that registration and distribution of fees levy payments should be made to the Planning Services Branch, DPTI - GPO Box 1815 SA 5001. Payments by credit card should be made by phone, not email.

Feedback

We welcome your feedback and suggestions about this newsletter. Email your suggestions to us at DPTI.PDBuildingBranch@sa.gov.au

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Page last modified Tuesday, 13 August 2019