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External combustible cladding

Definition of Cladding:

External combustible cladding1 in relation to a building means:

  1. any cladding or cladding system comprising metal composite panels, including aluminium, zinc and copper, that is applied to any of the building’s external walls or to any other external area of the building; or
  2. any insulated cladding system, including a system comprising polystyrene, polyurethane or polyisocyanurate, that is applied to any of the building’s external walls or to any other external area of the building.

The matters for consideration set out in this guideline are not exhaustive and are to be read in conjunction with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) ‘Guide for the Assessment of Buildings with Combustible Cladding

FRNSW receives requests to consult and provide advice on the risk presented by Cladding on existing buildings from Councils or other stakeholders. 

Typically these requests are to review, consult on and advise on Cladding risk reports that are submitted under the following circumstances:

  • Clause 1442 and 1523 applications that detail performance-based solutions regarding the modification of existing buildings with cladding
  • Requests for advice from enforcement authorities4 (e.g. Councils or DPIE) in connection with fire safety orders5 (or proposed orders)
  • Requests for advice or consultation from recipients of fire safety orders
  • Conditions imposed by the Minister for Planning requiring engagement with FRNSW as a stakeholder. For example, these requirements are contained in s9.40 Notices that require the recipient to carry out audits and monitoring in consultation with FRNSW.
  • Risk Assessments submitted to FRNSW on a voluntary basis identifying Cladding on existing buildings, and possible remedial works being considered.

FRNSW is not obliged to provide this advice or consultation.  FRNSW may provide that advice or consultation where it is authorised to do so by the Fire and Rescue NSW Act 1989, including where the advice or consultation is for preventing and extinguishing fires and protecting and saving life and property in case of fire, or the function is assigned to the Commissioner by or under any other Act, or by the State Emergency Operations Controller or the Minister.6

FRNSW’s guidance in the assessment of Cladding is as follows:

  1. FRNSW’s assessment of a proposal will be informed by the National Construction Code (NCC), Volume One, Building Code of Australia 2019 (BCA).
  2. In accordance with the Building Product Use Ban issued pursuant to Section 9(1) of the Building Products (Safety) Act 2017, FRNSW does not support the use or continuation of use of Cladding materials containing a core comprising of greater than 30% PE, unless otherwise justified in accordance with items No. 4 and 5 below.
  3. FRNSW does not support the use or continuation of use of Cladding materials where demonstrating compliance with the BCA relies on Certificates of Conformity that have since been withdrawn and not reinstated by the relevant Certification Body (for example, refer to https://www.abcb.gov.au/Product-Certification/CodeMark-Certification-Scheme/Certified-Products).
  4. Performance solutions may be acceptable on a case-by-case basis where the Cladding has been tested in accordance with AS 5113 and achieves the classification EW. Consideration should also be given to the requirements in the NCC Verification Method CV3.
  5. For Cladding materials that have not been tested to AS 5113, or that have failed the AS 5113 test, FRNSW may consider performance solutions on a case-by-case basis. FRNSW would not expect to consider performance solutions to be acceptable unless the safety risk presented by the Cladding is eliminated or, if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the safety risk, it is minimised as far as practicable.  In considering whether the safety risk is minimised the matters that FRNSW will consider include whether the quantity, location, arrangement and combustibility of the Cladding materials poses an undue risk of fire spread and/or an unacceptable risk to occupants and firefighters. To this extent, FRNSW will refer to the framework provided in the DPIE 'Guide for the Assessment of Buildings with Combustible Cladding'.
  6. Where performance solutions are assessed on a case-by-case basis, a FRNSW panel will be established to carry out the considerations referred to in 4 and 5 above.

Note:  In all cases, FRNSW considers it would be best practice for applicants to involve the building’s insurer as a key stakeholder, and recommends ascertaining the insurance implications by seeking quotes for building insurance based on leaving the cladding material on the building, and one for the building after the cladding has been removed.

FRNSW will not provide advice or consultation except for the purpose of the execution of an Act7.

FRNSW may require that:

  • the recipient of the advice or consultation has agreed to pay FRNSW’s costs (as determined by the Commissioner8) of the required work to provide the advice or consultation;
  • the recipient of the advice or consultation has agreed to the Standard Disclaimers and the advice or consultation that is provided will be subject to the Standard Disclaimers

Should you require any further clarification or information, please contact FRNSW Fire Safety at FireSafety@fire.nsw.gov.au.

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[1]  See Cl 3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation
[2]  See Cl 144 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation
[3]  See Cl 152 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation
[4]  See s9.35 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
[5]  See Part 2 of Schedule 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act
[6]  See s5A(4) of the Fire and Rescue NSW Act
[7]  See s78 of the Fire and Rescue NSW Act
[8]  See s42 of the Fire and Rescue NSW Act