New Zealand is less exposed to the risks of fire as a result of combustible claddings on high-rise buildings due to these products being restricted earlier this year, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Government amended Building Code provisions in January this year to restrict the use of combustible cladding systems in buildings following fires in Melbourne and Dubai. I am advised that these systems are not prevalent in New Zealand. I have asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to contact councils and check whether any high-rise buildings have been constructed with these materials prior to the amendments earlier this year.
“New Zealand’s style of housing is shifting, with more people living in high-rise apartments that carry greater risks from fire hazards. Our building regulations need to keep pace with this change in living styles and ensure that New Zealand never experiences what occurred at the Grenfell Tower in London.
“The Government is further tightening the fire safety requirements for high-rise buildings with proposals put out for consultation in May. These proposals clarify the responsibilities between structural and fire engineers, tighten the verification methods for claddings and fire-fighting provisions such as water supply and location of fire hydrants in the building and improve the process for the development of alternative solutions.
“We will be watching the detailed inquiries into the London disaster to see whether there are any issues relevant to New Zealand’s building and fire regulations. We always need to be on the lookout for ways to improve public safety.”
See the amendments to the Building Code cladding provisions here: https://www.building.govt.nz/about-building-performance/news-and-updates/codewords/codewords-issue-77/changes-fire-safety-external-cladding/