The fallout from Monday’s fire at the 41-storey Neo200 building on Melbourne’s Spencer Street continues, with Victoria’s Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, reportedly seeking a nationwide ban on combustible cladding, which is present in “thousands of Victorian buildings”. Wynne says the federal government has a major role to play in ensuring that building products are compliant and safe.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the 41-storey Neo200 building was deemed as a “moderate risk” in an audit ordered by the Victorian Cladding Taskforce, and yet the fire on Monday spread rapidly from the 22nd to the 27th floor. From The ABC:
Firefighters said the fire was caused by a discarded cigarette on an apartment balcony, which then was fuelled by the cladding.
Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the Neo200 apartments were assessed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) as part of a statewide audit investigating combustible cladding.
“It was indicated that because the building was not fully clad, it was of moderate risk,” he said.
Fifteen fire trucks, two ladder-platform trucks and 60 firefighters were required to extinguish the fire.
Obvious question: if the Neo200 building was deemed to be “moderate risk”, and yet managed to catch fire from a discarded cigarette, what does this say about those buildings deemed “higher risk”?
Not to worry, these buildings are being “case managed” by the Victorian Government:
“There are in the order of about 60 buildings that are of higher risk and we are case-managing all of those individually through the building regulator the VBA.”
The use of flammable cladding is also reportedly widespread:
“You have to look really right across [the state]. They’re in regional cities, they’re in the CBD, they’re in the suburbs as well,” [Richard Wynne] said.
“This non-conforming cladding product has been used very extensively for more than 20 years in the building industry.”
What a mess. This what you get when:
- policy makers force-feed hundreds of thousands of migrants into our major cities each year, necessitating the rapid construction of shoddy quality high-rise; and
- neoliberals spend years slashing “red tape”, 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 that a disaster, like the Grenfell Tower in London, is only a matter of time. The sad reality is that anybody living in one of these high-rise slums is playing Russian Roulette with their lives.