Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has called for an audit of the exterior cladding materials used in all Australian high-rises, following the catastrophic blaze which engulfed London’s Grenfell Tower.
While the cause of the inferno is not yet known, a recent exterior refurbishment included new aluminium composite material cladding. That’s similar to the illegally-used material which exacerbated the Lacrosse apartment fire in Melbourne back in 2014.
Speaking to Today this morning, Xenophon warned of the risks of non-compliant building materials, saying “when you have firefighters saying this stuff makes our job almost impossible to do, that is very disturbing.”
Xenophon is currently serving on a Senate committee focussing on dodgy and dangerous building projects, which is expected to deliver a fully-fledged report on the issue a little later this year.
Rydon, the building company which completed the Grenfell Tower refurbishment, issued a statement in the aftermath of the fire, saying “work met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards.”
However, experts and eyewitnesses have noted the insane speed and ferocity of the fire. Fire engineer Jeff Wilkinson labelled the disaster the worst he’d seen in three decades, and that “something serious has gone wrong here.”
Wilkinson said he was reminded of instances where “fire has spread up the gap between the external cladding panel,” but “that in itself shouldn’t have caused the fire to have spread the way it has”.
An eyewitness who identified himself as Mark said “it was burning like paper, it wasn’t the building, it wasn’t the structure. That cladding – it was just like throwing fuel on the fire.”
12 fatalities have been confirmed after the disaster, with dozens more injured.
Photo: Carl Court / Getty.