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ACP cladding investigation update

Enhanced review underway

Published: 30 June 2017

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ACP cladding investigation update

Auckland Council is now underway with the next stage of its investigation into buildings across the Auckland region that potentially have aluminium composite panels (ACP) in their construction.

This stage of the review takes a more in-depth look into those buildings that have been identified as potentially having ACP, starting with the only two buildings we have identified that currently have PE type (non-fire rated) cladding systems over 25 metres.

Ian McCormick, General Manager Building Control, says his team has started with the Spencer on Byron and Nautilus buildings and the investigation has turned up more detail on selection of their cladding systems.

“Firstly, I must again stress that both the Spencer on Byron and Nautilus buildings have high specification fire safety systems and, despite the fact there appears to be an issue with their cladding, residents should feel assured of their safety options in the event of a fire,” he says.

This review includes looking at the documentation processed by the former councils and detailed conversations with the body corporate.

“In both cases it appears that the original fire design commissioned by the applicant envisaged a non-combustible cladding. The applicant has selected an ACP panel that did not meet the required fire resistance requirements. It appears that this inconsistency was not picked up.

“The checks and balances in place around the fire safety components of a building consent process have changed significantly since 2001 when the Spencer on Byron and Nautilus consents were granted,” says Mr McCormick.

It is important to note that the panels are being replaced and the buildings have comprehensive fire safety systems in place.

Mr McCormick says the council will continue to work with the Spencer on Byron and Nautilus bodies corporate and their project managers on any additional measures or enhancements that could be added to its already-comprehensive fire safety system between now and recladding being completed.

Mr McCormick warns against drawing strong parallels between buildings in Auckland and London’s Grenfell Tower.

“It is important to remember that the impact of a fire on any building is influenced by the performance of the whole system, not just the component parts.

“Information that we’re hearing so far on the Grenfell tragedy has highlighted the absence of sprinklers, lack of a performing smoke/fire detection system, lack of effective fire evacuation procedures, protected egress routes and the presence of a combustible insulation system between the ACP cladding and the concrete structure of the building,” he says.

Spencer on Byron, Takapuna

An in-depth look into the history of the 22 storey Spencer on Byron has revealed more detail around the choice of cladding on the building. It was consented by the former North Shore City Council and the reports were lodged by the developer (some 16-17 years ago).

  • The building’s cladding is being replaced with fire-resistant aluminium cladding as part of a weather-tightness remediation programme.
  • The building has a comprehensive fire safety system that was specifically designed, installed and verified, by the council during construction and will alert occupants to the presence of smoke and fire.
  • The fire safety system includes a sprinkler system connected to the fire brigade, smoke detection and manual call points; protected safe routes out of the building; emergency lighting and a pressurised stairwell. These are designed to isolate these areas from fire and smoke to enable evacuation.
  • The system is regularly monitored and tested by independently qualified experts.
  • The building also has drenchers on a number of external walls designed to douse the cladding system below them to resist fire.

Nautilus, Orewa

The 12 storey Nautilus building is clad with LDPE aluminium composite panelling and was consented in 2002 by the former Rodney District Council. Recladding with fire resistant aluminium, as part of wider weather-tightness remediation work is underway.

Like Spencer on Byron, Nautilus has comprehensive fire safety systems that were specifically designed, installed and verified, by the council during construction and will alert occupants to the presence of smoke or fire.

  • It has an internal sprinkler system connected to the fire brigade, smoke detection and manual call points.
  • The building also has protected safe routes out of the building including smoke lobbies on each floor, emergency lighting and a pressurised stairwell. These are designed to isolate these areas from fire and smoke to enable evacuation.

Summary: the council’s review

To date we have identified 90 buildings that potentially have ACP panelling as part of an entire cladding system or decorative feature.

The council has engaged an independent fire engineer to review buildings identified with ACP. The engineer will be working as part of a project team that will specifically focus on this issue.

He will review consent documentation, system maintenance records and, together with the project team, will engage with the owners of the buildings. This will include working with, as required, a fire engineer of the building owners’ choice to evaluate and confirm the safety of occupants in the building and identify any additional actions that may need to be taken or considered. This work will include a site visit to assess the overall system and how it is being managed on a day to day basis. 

We will be working closely with the NZ Fire Service in this work.

The council is also identifying all ACP cladding suppliers and distributors and requesting they provide details of buildings that they have supplied ACP to. We will validate this information against our list to ensure, as much as possible, we can identify all ACP-clad buildings.

The aim is to work collaboratively with building owners to develop an informed view on occupant safety and compliance. We will be keeping building owners advised of any findings.