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  • #51367

    I am looking for information about Fire wall regulations as applies to a 20 Unit complex built in NSW in 1988. Our brick and tile complex is currently  having a tile roof replaced.

    Our builder has alerted me that our firewalls between units may not meet current firewall standards in the roof. Our bricks are stepped up along batons, which leaves gaps and their does not appear to be any fire retardant material between wall and roof.

    I want to know what are the regulations as applies to a complex of units with shared walls and these apparent firewall defects. Where would I go to get advice about what I need to do or not do? Any advice gratefully accepted.

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  • #51420

    Let me respond to PJ’s questions (7th August) arising from apparent failure of strata building construction to meet relevant fire regulations, and to the response of the 11th. Assuming limited space, I shall try and keep it brief but the subject really warrants more comprehensive discussion in a suitable forum.

    Not sure if the failure is just a strong suspicion at this stage but there is in strata law an obligation upon the owners corporation/committee to investigate and determine whether or not that is so. Flat Chat has, of course, dealt with those subjects precisely and comprehensively so I don’t here.

    Insurance policies including fire covers are contracts of utmost good faith. It is well-established law with many precedents that facts likely to affect an insurer’s decision as to whether to grant cover at all, but if so, on what terms and conditions, must be disclosed by the applicant/policyholder.

    The Strata and other Australian policies I have seen all have such a specific requirement written in, and brokers’ inception and renewal advice includes pertinent reference.

    Both insurers and brokers usually set out in writing warnings of the consequences of material non-disclosure.

    Non-compliance with fire regulations undoubtably falls into the category of material fact requiring disclosure. Without that, in the event of a serious fire, insurers would be entitled to and probably would deny liability.

    It should be assumed therefore that if there has not been proper compliance then there is no effective fire cover. I can point you to at least one recent and much publicised such case right here in Sydney.

    Deal with this now. Today. I have seen many bankruptcies and several suicides arising from losses resulting from failure to act promptly. Reject any advice,such as waiting until the next renewal date, to the contrary, from Insurance Brokers. The risk is yours, not theirs.

    If current insurers are informed properly and given details, or even of intent, of plans to rectify the defects, they are likely to take a benign attitude and continue cover at no additional cost, until rectification. Do not count on such a benign attitude if they are not informed and only find out after a loss or damage. Too late.

    As an aside, if an owner has knowledge of non-compliance with fire regulations and does not inform his contents insurers, there might just be some difficulty in getting indemnity.

    This subject can be expanded upon to a great extent but, as I said earlier, I’m limiting comment to the briefest. In particular,I am omitting any reference to the miss behaviour of a C committees.

    Readers might ask why they should listen to me. That would take up much space but let me say I have dealt with over 1000 fires and their consequences, involving hundreds of deaths (177 in a single case) and billions of dollars. I have advised nearly every major insurer and Lloyd’s underwriter on the meaning of their policies and reactions to claims. I’ve employed many engineers and lawyers to deal with the technical and legal aspects of such matters and detectives to deal with the fraud aspects. All this internationally and over nearly 50 years.

    I hope these comments help and in particular prompt some of the owners of the many defective buildings in Australia to see that at least there is proper insurance protection. By the way, the size of the premium paid is the least important aspect.


    Be careful what you wish for.

    Buildings constructed in the past should have been built to the fire regulations current at the time. The occupation certificate was issued on that basis.

    Only in unusual circumstances will the local council require changes to bring the building up to current regulations.

    These modifications can be very costly.
    Before you do anything make sure the committee is with you. If you stir a hornets nest you will be the pariah of your building.

    You can approach any company that does fire inspections for a report. Just be careful who you choose as some companies “beat up” the report in order to have you spend lots of money with them in upgrading the building.


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