The peak bodies representing Australia’s concrete and masonry industries, Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA), Think Brick Australia, and Concrete Masonry Association of Australia (CMAA) have called on the Federal Government to urgently review the National Construction Code (NCC) and restrict the use of combustible materials in high-rise construction, following the recent fire on Spencer Street in Melbourne’s CBD.
The City of Melbourne’s Municipal Building Surveyor issued an emergency order at approximately 1:45 pm on Monday 4 February as a first response after investigations found the fire at an apartment building on Spencer Street impacted the building’s ‘essential safety measures’.
The fire is alleged to have originated on the 22nd floor and spread to the 27th floor.
Early investigations indicate that the apartments on these floors, as well as floors above and below, were significantly affected by fire and water damage. It is likely that residents of these apartments will not be able to return to their property for a long period as extensive rectification works are required.
Chief Executive Officer of CCAA, Ken Slattery, said it is deeply concerning that residents and first responders are once again put at significant risk by a fire at a high-rise building with Grenfell-style cladding.
“Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London, a Senate inquiry raised serious concerns about the widespread use of non-compliant combustible cladding, and yet very little appears to have been done to make high-rise buildings safer in the event of a fire,” said Mr Slattery.
“The most effective way to provide absolute protection to residents and the brave men and women in the fire service is to ban combustible materials from being used in high-rise construction.”
Group Chief Executive of Think Brick Australia & CMAA, Elizabeth McIntyre, added that the groups are calling on the Government to urgently review the proposed NCC changes that further weaken fire safety standards for buildings with an effective height of up to 25 metres.
“The standards expressed in the NCC should be tightened, not placing the community at greater risk by opening up the code to the increased use of combustible products,” she said, “as well as being non-combustible, concrete and masonry products don’t release toxic fumes during a fire, and because of their relatively slow rate of heat transfer, they act as a heat shield to protect building occupants.”
“The simple fact is that concrete and masonry don’t burn. No other materials are as safe or reliable as concrete and masonry in the event of a fire,” said Ms McIntyre.
The City of Melbourne has re-opened the emergency relief centre at Melbourne Town Hall to support people affected by the 200 Spencer Street fire, more information on this can be found here.
Additionally, a PDF preview of NCC 2019 is now available ahead of NCC 2019’s full release, it can be accessed online here.