The Department of Fair Trading NSW has announced a wide-ranging fire safety package to be headed up by the state government.
Following in the wake of the Grenfell fire in London, where at least 80 people died, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said the 10 point plan was Australia’s most comprehensive response to the issues around London’s Grenfell Tower fire in June.
“Our priority is to put consumers first and keep them as safe as possible in their homes,” Kean said.
“We’ll do this by ensuring unsafe building products are taken off the shelves, buildings with cladding are identified and notified and that we only have people with the necessary skills and experience certifying buildings and signing off on fire-safety.”
Kean said strong new legislation would be introduced to prohibit the sale and use of unsafe building products.
“This package will protect consumers from building products that are inherently dangerous or that are being advertised for use in a way that makes them dangerous,” Kean said.
Kean said every part of the supply and distribution chain would be responsible for making sure these products are only used for their intended purpose.
“Where a dangerous product has been used, the legislation will allow for rectification orders as well as prosecution for people caught supplying, selling or using them.”
The 10-point plan includes:
- A comprehensive building product safety scheme that would prevent the use of dangerous products on buildings
- Identifying buildings that might have aluminium or other cladding
- Writing to the building / strata managers or owners of those buildings to encourage them to inspect the cladding and installation of cladding, if it exists
- NSW Fire and Rescue visiting all buildings on the list, as part of a fire safety education program. This will allow them to gather information they need to prepare for a potential fire at that building, and provide additional information to building owners
- Creating a new fire safety declaration that will require high rise residential buildings to inform state and local governments as well as NSW Fire and Rescue if their building has cladding on it
- Expediting reforms to toughen up the regulation of building certifiers
- Reforms to create an industry-based accreditation that will ensure only skilled and experienced people can do fire safety inspections
- Establishing a whole of government taskforce that will coordinate and roll out the reforms
- Instructing all government departments to audit their buildings and determine if they have aluminium cladding, with an initial focus on social housing
- Writing to local councils to follow up on correspondence they received from the state government, after Melbourne’s Lacrosse Tower fire, in 2016.
Kean said many of these elements were already underway, including the establishment of the taskforce.
“We had already planned some of the reforms as a part of our Consumers First package, but have expedited them to better protect New South Wales families in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire,” Kean said.
“We will also consider the ongoing investigation into that blaze, and make further changes, if needed, that will continue to put consumers first.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: ChiralJon