Auckland Council has almost completed its investigation across the Auckland region into buildings that potentially have aluminum composite panels (ACP) in their construction.
The full findings to date are available on the Auckland Council website.
Ian McCormick, General Manager Building Consents, says the council has reviewed over 300 buildings, some of which are at sites with multiple buildings.
“We are confident that there are no Grenfell-type buildings in Auckland,” says McCormick.
He says that the investigation found 116 buildings that appear to utilise ACP cladding to some extent. In some cases the cladding material has a combustible polyethylene core, while in others it possesses a modified FR (fire resistant) core. The extent and use of ACP on the buildings varies considerably from the full façade, to decorative features only, and many buildings that do not contain ACP at all.
“We haven’t identified any building that would be considered dangerous due to ACP cladding,” McCormick says.
“It’s important to remember that Auckland Council takes building safety very seriously and will not allow buildings to remain unsafe to the public.”
He says that, in many cases, the use of ACP is limited and the safety from fire of such buildings and their occupants is maintained by features such as sprinkler systems that reduce potential fire risks.
The buildings comprise a mix of residential and commercial; however, McCormick says they are considered low risk.
“While some of the buildings assessed may not comply with the current building code, Auckland Council considers that a combination of fire prevention measures, fire safety systems, the extent of ACP coverage and any potential exposure to an ignition source do not cause immediate concerns for occupants or visitors safety.”
Comment from Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Auckland Council is currently working with MBIE to put in place additional guidance to the industry specifically surrounding fire compliance of cladding systems.
Mike Shaw, Principal Advisor Fire Risk Management, Fire and Emergency New Zealand says, “We are pleased the council has undertaken this exercise. The information gathered confirms that in the event of fire people will be able to evacuate these buildings safely."
What has changed since the beginning of the investigation?
The Building Code compliance documents were revised by MBIE in 2017 to place increased restrictions on the use of combustible external cladding. The council is working with MBIE specifically with regards to combustible cladding to ensure that the regulatory settings are appropriate.
Communicating to owners and body corporates
There are more than 5000 residential apartments and hundreds of commercial offices associated with the buildings identified by Auckland Council as having some form of ACP cladding.
We have informed building owners and body corporates and have stressed that these buildings are not considered dangerous. We have encouraged them to notify their insurers and seek their own professional engineering advice.
Advice for building occupants
While Auckland Council does not consider the buildings identified as having ACP as dangerous, there are a range of fire safety measures tenants should insist on.
- Familiarization with their buildings' evacuation procedures and escape routes
- Ensuring that the fire safety systems are maintained and in good working order.
- Presence of working smoke alarms or detectors (compulsory in all rental homes).
Advice to potential buyers
Prior to purchasing any property, we strongly encourage owners to review the property file held by the council and also the Land Information Memorandum (LIM), which is a summary of information that we hold on a property.
With regards to ACP cladding, information will be available on the related property file.
Advice for users of public buildings with ACP panels
There are many factors that contribute to a building's level of safety, including risks such as the presence of combustible building materials. In addition, other factors such as building management and occupant behavior can alter the fire risks present. Fire safety features such as sprinkler systems, automatic fire detection and early warning systems provide mitigation to many fire risks.
Internationally, New Zealand is highly regarded in terms of the level of fire safety features present in our buildings. This leads to a relatively low incidence of fires.