How to improve your fire safety if your strata property has combustible cladding
Combustible cladding can increase the chance of fires, which means improved strata property fire safety is crucial
Do you understand the relationship between combustible cladding and fire safety, and your obligations as a strata property owner? Keep reading for an explanation, as well as a summary of state-based requirements in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and general fire safety recommendations that may apply to you if your strata property has combustible cladding.To help you understand your obligations as an owner whose strata property has combustible cladding, we explore:
- Which types of combustible cladding create a fire risk
- Fire safety laws across the states
- Fire safety tips that will help keep you safe
Which types of combustible cladding create a fire risk
Certain types of cladding are known to be flammable and can increase the fire safety risk to a strata property. These include aluminium composite panels (ACPs) and other panels made with polymer cores. However, because there are so many cladding types out there, many dangerous cladding types are unknown.
Some buildings may contain flammable cladding types, but they may have a lower fire risk due to the type of building or location of the cladding. If your strata property has combustible cladding of this nature, the cladding may not require removal or modification.
To determine whether your cladding needs rectification, engage a qualified specialist to assess your building’s cladding and fire safety risk.
Fire safety laws across the states
Regardless of whether your strata property has combustible cladding or not, your building must meet general fire safety requirements. These requirements vary by state, and it is your responsibility as an owner to ensure they are met.
New South Wales
A strata property owner’s fire safety requirements are detailed in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
According to New South Wales law, strata committees and owners must:
- Comply with essential safety measures specified by the local council
- Complete an annual Fire Safety Statement
- Provide the statement to the local council and pay a fee.
The council may prompt strata committees and owners to complete the Fire Safety Statement and pay the fee.
Owners corporations may also need to complete a Fire Safety Certificate (for new buildings) or SupplementaryFire Safety Statement (for critical safety measures).
For more information about New South Wales fire safety requirements, visit the NSW Department of Planning website. Queensland
Owners corporations must comply with the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 (FESA) and the Building Fire Safety Regulation 2008 (BFSR).
To help meet your obligations as building owner, you may refer to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ official Fire Safety Management Tool for Owner/Occupiers. This user-friendly checklist outlines the various fire safety requirements you must comply with.
For more information about Queensland, see the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website.Victoria
In Victoria, fire safety requirements fall under the Essentials Safety Measures, defined in Part 15 of the Building Regulations 2018. Under this regulation, different measures depend on what type of building you have and when it was built.
Councils and fire authorities are responsible for enforcing these laws and are authorised to issue
infringement notices for non-compliance.
Owners corporations must address the following items:
- Ensure fulfilment of all essential safety measures for your building type
- Produce an annual essential safety measures report
- Keep records of maintenance checks, safety measures and repair work
- Be prepared to present relevant documentation to a municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the fire brigade.
For more details about Victorian fire safety requirements, you can refer to the Victorian Building Authority website.
Fire safety tips that will help keep you safe
Your strata property’s specific fire safety requirements will depend on your local laws and regulations. However, any actions you take to improve your building’s fire safety will ensure a safer environment for residents and a more secure investment for owners.
We recommend the following fire safety practices, especially if your strata property has combustible cladding:
- Use clear signage for fire exits
- Keep fire exits clear of obstructions and unlocked at all times
- Keep hallways, stairways and landings clear of obstructions
- Avoid covering air-conditioning units with clothes or other materials
- Avoid using barbeques and heaters on balconies near potentially combustible material
- Ensure smoke alarms inside apartments are working at all times
- Ensure occupants can evacuate the building safely in case of emergency.
When it comes to managing a strata property, there are various compliance or legislative requirements that are needed to protect owners and residents. When the situation allows, you don’t want to miss out on the chance of an insurance claim. Click here to learn more about Community Health & Safety and related services to ensure your protection. You can also click here to download our FREE Community Living guide series on defects. If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, click here for a free assessment.