The fallout from Monday’s fire at the 41-storey Neo200 building on Melbourne’s Spencer Street continues, with information emerging that residents of the 60 buildings deemed to be at the “highest risk” due to deadly flammable cladding have not been notified for fear that arsonists and/or terrorists could target their buildings:
Stephen Raff, founder of Ace Body Corporate Management, said that wasn’t good enough.
He said residents and owners must be made aware.
“Yes it should be (public) – absolutely,” Mr Raff told Neil Mitchell.
“The government, both state and federal, have a responsibility here.
“This is not the owners’ responsibility or problem – they’ve bought in good faith and have bought a building that has substandard cladding and is putting lives at risk.”
Meanwhile, other apartments owners, whose buildings have been left off the government’s flammable cladding list, have subsequently found out that their buildings are infested:
A Melbourne apartment block recently found to have dangerous combustible cladding was not on the government taskforce’s audit list for assessment, and had to be privately assessed at a cost of $20,000.
The discovery has prompted concerns hundreds of similar buildings in Melbourne’s CBD could be in a similar situation, forcing residents to spend thousands employing fire engineers to determine the safety of their homes…
Cladding expert Sahil Bhasin, the general manager of Roscon, a company specialising in identifying building defects, said he believed realistically there were hundreds of buildings in Melbourne not on the audit list which were likely to have cladding…
The Greens want taxpayers to foot the bill for repairs:
Premier Andrews dismissed a proposal by Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam to set up a $50 million cladding safety fund which would enable owners of apartments with dangerous cladding to get it replaced immediately at taxpayers’ expense, with the onus then on the state government recoup the cost from builders through legal avenues.
Whereas firefighters attending the 41-storey Neo200 building discovered international students living in crowded slum-like conditions, thus further endangering safety:
Firefighters found up to 10 beds crammed inside some two-bedroom apartments after a fire tore through a notorious tower in Melbourne’s CBD…
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Trent Curtin said firefighters were hindered in their efforts to battle the blaze and evacuate residents due to overcrowding inside the complex…
Investigators believe the fire’s likely cause was a discarded cigarette that ignited combustible materials stored on the balcony…
“The council can check for overcrowding but they have to give warning … We know we have had beds in the stairwell [in the past]” The tower has a history of fires and overcrowding…
The Neo200 tower was rated a “moderate risk” in a statewide audit of buildings with combustible cladding that followed the Lacrosse fire.
So if the Neo200 building was deemed “moderate risk”, and yet caught alight from a cigarette, what does this say about those buildings deemed “high risk”?
Sadly, policy makers have allowed the building of hundreds of ‘slums in the sky’, all to feed the business lobby migrant consumers and workers, and our universities international students.
Meanwhile, the Coalition and business lobby have spent years rallying against “redtape” as if it is some sort impediment to business, rather than necessary rules and regulations meant to stop shoddy building practices, the use of dangerous building materials, and the use of apartments as over crowded slums.
The Lacrosse and Neo200 fires are a warning to us all that a disaster, like the Grenfell Tower in London, is only a matter of time.