Chapter 8 Fire and safety cladding
A number of amendments were made to the BCA in 2018 and 2019 to increase fire safety and restrict the use of combustible materials on building facades.
In 2010, Section C of the Building Code provided a series of minimum fire resistance requirements with specified verification methods (although it did not specifically address the use of aluminium composite panelling). Some of the relevant general requirements, are as follows:
- the building must have elements which will, to the degree necessary, maintain structural stability during a fire;
- the building must have elements which will, to the degree necessary, avoid the spread of fire to exists, sole occupancy units, public corridors; between buildings and within the building;
- a material and an assembly must, to the degree necessary, resist the spread of fire to limit the generation of smoke and heat;
- the building must have elements, which will, to the degree necessary, avoid the spread of fire from service equipment; and
- access must be provided to and around a building, to the degree necessary, for fire brigade vehicles and personnel to facilitate fire brigade intervention.
Between 2010 and 2016, there were a number of amendments to the BCA. However, it was not until 2018 that significant measures were adopted to address the risks associated with external cladding products on high rise buildings. These included the introduction of a more onerous requirements or verification methods for testing of external wall assemblies for fire spread.
In 2019, the BCA was again amended to refine the requirements to address the risks associated with external cladding, including:
- that certain materials, though combustible, may be used wherever non-combustible material is required, provided they meet strict criteria. The criteria provides that aluminium composite panel with a core deemed combustible in accordance with AS 1530.1 is not permitted and therefore cannot be used where non-combustible material is required; and
- further revision of the verification method for determining whether the fire performance of external wall systems are compliant with the BCA.