Flammable cladding report makes chilling viewing


Did you see Four Corners on the ABC this week?  It was all about the dangers of inflammable cladding and how they’ve been around for two decades.

You will be able to catch up with it on iView, if you missed it – and it’s well worth watching.

Now, I have written in the past that I think the potential risk to buildings that have flammable cladding could be reduced with a bit of common sense. If your fire safety is up to scratch and you ban anything that could start a fire on your balcony – like smoking and barbecues – do you need to remove and replace the composite cladding?

People more expert than I say, yes, you do. Which makes this week’s Four Corners all the more chilling.

Did you know that every square meter of flammable cladding is the equivalent of 5 litres of petrol in a fire.

Did you know that the dangers from cladding have been known for more than 20 years.

Add the cladding risks to the scandals of self-certification and poor enforcement of building codes and you have the recipe for disaster now confronting us.

Meanwhile Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean has copped a roasting in the NSW parliament for only telling committees and strata managers – and not tenants and other residents – that their buildings may be in danger.

Also, says the Opposition,  there are no time limits or penalties for not responding to the letter telling them to check their cladding is safe.

And is there such a thing as safe cladding anyway?

Regardless of my belief that the risk is behavioural as much as structural, the government needs to follow the lead of Queensland and make everyone who was involved in the decision to put dangerous cladding on residential buildings responsible for the cost of making it safe.

It certainly shouldn’t be us poor suckers who naively thought no one would sell us a flat in a block they knew could be a fire trap.


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