News | 12 June 2018

Grenfell Tower fire and ACP panel investigation – Wellington City Council update

Following the tragic fire in the Grenfell Tower in London and, in New Zealand, a nationwide MBIE request to gather information about buildings clad in aluminium composite panels, Wellington City Council has identified 113 buildings with aluminium composite panelling.

The Council has reviewed the property files of these buildings and a building investigation officer visited the properties to seek to confirm the type of cladding and its location. In cases where we couldn’t confirm whether the cladding was a combustible type or not we assumed it was combustible. At each visit, the officer took photos and undertook a visual inspection. The results of the site inspections were then compared against information held on each property on our files.

In some instances, we were able to conclude the ACP was non-combustible due to its fire-rated core.

For buildings with a significant amount of ACP with an assumed combustible polythene core we engaged a fire engineer to carry out specific assessments, based on the building's specific features such as height and fire safety systems, to identify if there were any characteristics of the building or apparent fire risks that might assist the spread of fire to the ACP cladding.

For 18 of the 113 buildings the Council considered that a fire engineer assessment was appropriate. The engineer has concluded that the extent of ACP coverage should not be detrimental to safe evacuation of the building in the event of a fire involving ACP. The engineer has also recommended specific actions to be taken by the building owners.

Last month (May) building owners were advised of the results of these investigations, including our findings and relevant reports. We are now in the process of recording and responding to incoming information and queries from the building owners.

We have not assessed any building as requiring further action from the Council in terms of our statutory responsibilities. However, we have recommended that the building owners assess the building from an occupant safety perspective, seeking independent advice as appropriate, and implement any relevant recommendations of the fire engineer.

We will take the ACP matter further if MBIE provides further guidance.

In terms of publicly identifying the 18 buildings and their addresses, we first want to give the property owners reasonable time to respond to our letters and, where necessary, advise tenants before we make this information public.