Compliance is an ever-increasing aspect of doing business today and the construction industry is on a journey toward improved compliance across all sectors.
Unfortunately, there have been some key drivers for this increased scrutiny and regulation be it by government or industry.
The Energy Efficient Homes Package was an Australian government program implemented by the Rudd Government. Home Insulation Program, which was beset by controversy when the deaths of four workers in separate incidents were linked to the program. There were also 94 house fires deemed to be related to the works carried out under the scheme.
The Mascot Towers in Sydney had to be evacuated due to waterproofing issues, sediment cracks and sinking foundations and more buildings are being identified with the same issues.
The biggest wake up call has come from what has been identified as extensive use of combustible aluminium cladding particularly in multi residential dwellings. This type of cladding has been in the market since the early ‘90’s.
The Grenfell Tower in London went up in flames in 2017 killing 72 people. Having started in a fourth-floor flat due to an electrical fault in a refrigerator, the fire spread to the outside of the building and set it ablaze, racing up to the roof in less than half an hour and quickly engulfing the entire building. The cause of the blaze was found to combustible aluminium cladding used in the refurbishment of the building in 2016.
The NEO 200 Building on Spencer Street Melbourne also experienced a fire which started by a lit cigarette smouldering in clothes, cardboard and books on a balcony. It was determined that the same type of combustible cladding had been used when the building was constructed in 2004. It was lucky that this did not claim any lives.
These events have driven increased scrutiny on products being specified. On 1st May 2019, the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 came into effect, introducing significant changes to the technical requirements for building and plumbing work.
In Victoria. The NCC defines the minimum necessary requirements for
new buildings and new building work in Australia.
One of the revisions to the NCC was the verification of the fire hazard properties.
For this verification, the NCC requires that a group number of a wall or ceiling lining and the smoke growth rate index or average specific extinction area, must be determined in accordance with AS 5637.1.2015. This standard sets out the procedures for the assessment of these linings and their tendency to ignite, release heat, cause flashover, release smoke and contribute to fire growth. In accordance with AS5637.1.2015, the group number of a material can be determined by physical testing using the test method AS/ISO 9705-2003 (2016) which is a room fire test.
What the group number indicates is the ‘time to flashover’ during the ISO room test. Flashover refers to the phenomenon of the sudden ignition of almost all of the exposed combustible surfaces within an enclosed room. During an enclosed room fire, a hot layer of smoke can form at the ceiling level which will radiate heat onto exposed surfaces below. When certain materials are heated, they undergo thermal decomposition and can release flammable gases. Flashover occurs when the flammable gases and the majority of the exposed surfaces reach a temperature where ignition occurs. Ignition is usually sudden and can appear to be almost
simultaneous across all exposed surfaces.
(Taken from Warrington Fire Test Report FAS190168 30/9/2019)
It is now more than ever, essential to ensure that products being considered and specified come with the appropriate test reports from an independent, NATA accredited laboratory to prove compliance to key aspects of safety and quality such as fire ratings. Enviroflex and their supply partner International Cellulose Corporation (ICC) take this compliance very seriously. ICC responded very quickly to the changes introduced by the NCC to submit materials prepared in accordance with the revised\ standard to one of the most authoritative testing laboratories in fire testing – Warrington Fire here in Melbourne. Here you can see the test as it happened and you can download the test report from our website.
Can you verify the compliance of all products that you are specifying with a genuine
test report to the appropriate Australian standard and test method?