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More buildings found to have fire-risk cladding: SCDF

SINGAPORE – More buildings have been found with external cladding that does not meet fire safety requirements, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Friday (Dec 8).

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SINGAPORE – More buildings have been found with external cladding that does not meet fire safety requirements, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Friday (Dec 8).

In addition to the 34 buildings that used the Alubond brand of composite panels as cladding – half of which have yet to remove the panels – nine other buildings have been found with non-compliant cladding from other brands. This brings the total number of buildings to 43.

Of the nine other buildings, six used the Bolli-Core FR brand of composite panels and one used Bolli-Core FR and another brand called Bolliya.

The buildings are Blocks 73, 73B, 75, 77 and 81 of JTC LaunchPad@one-north, and Vista Point mall at Woodlands Drive 44.

The two brands are certified as Class “0”, which means they do not allow flames to spread and, in theory, meet the SCDF’s fire safety requirements. But sample tests revealed the panels’ core may not be Class “0”, said the SCDF. Under the SCDF’s Fire Code, only non-combustible panels or Class “0” combustible panels may be used on external walls.

Bolli-Core FR panels are manufactured and supplied by FH Aluminium (Far East), located at Woodlands Industrial Park. On its website, the company said Bolli-Core FR panels are made of high-grade aluminium sheets with a fire retardant core.

According to the website, FH Aluminium has factories in China, Malaysia and Singapore, and has worked with agencies including the Housing and Development Board and Land Transport Authority on local projects.

Bolliya is produced by China’s Guangdong Bolliya Metal Building Materials Co.

Attempts by TODAY to contact both companies were unsuccessful.

The SCDF did not reveal the composite panel models used by the two other buildings, which were also not identified.

Investigations are ongoing to determine how the non-compliant composite panels ended up on the buildings, said the SCDF.

“SCDF is working with the distributors of the two models of cladding to investigate their non-compliance,” said a spokesperson.

It has done on-site assessments of the buildings and assessed them to be fit and safe for occupancy, due to their fire safety provisions. The assessments covered proximity of the cladding to possible ignition sources, the proportion of external walls covered with cladding and availability of fire protection systems such as sprinklers and fire hose reels, among other things.

All affected building owners must work with their Qualified Persons to remove the non-compliant cladding within 60 days, starting from the ground level, said the SCDF. In the meantime, building owners must ensure their fire safety systems are in good order, remove fire hazards, and enhance the vigilance of their personnel.

WHY SOME BUILDINGS HAVE NOT REMOVED NON-COMPLIANT CLADDING

Asked why 17 of the buildings using Alubond panels -- distributed by Chip Soon Aluminium -- have yet to remove them more than three months after the authorities first flagged the risk, an SCDF spokesperson said it is working with affected building owners. “Extensions from the two-month deadline have been granted on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration several factors, such as the extent of cladding on the building, accessibility of the cladded areas, impact on business operations, and various site constraints,” he said.

The buildings include 321 Clementi mall, 51 and 61 Seletar Aerospace View, JTC CleanTech Two@CleanTech Park, Singapore Polytechnic Teaching Blocks T1 to T10, Singapore Pools Building, Pasir Panjang Terminal Building 3 and the ventilation buildings at Marina Coastal Expressway.

Some buildings, such as the latter two, were not flagged in the SCDF’s first announcement in August.

A JTC spokesperson said it will complete the replacement works at CleanTech Two in January next year. Work on the five blocks at LaunchPad@one-north will start this month.

A Singapore Pools spokesperson said it has awarded the contract for removal and replacement of cladding at 210 Middle Road and “work is in progress”.

Investigations into external cladding posing a fire risk were triggered after an industrial building at 30 Toh Guan Road caught fire in May, claiming the life of a 54-year-old woman.

The SCDF filed a police report on July 6 arising from its Toh Guan Road fire findings. The spokesperson said police investigations are still ongoing.

Amid the debacle, the SCDF said it is looking to tighten safety regulations and certification processes relating to the use of composite panels as cladding. It will announce the outcome of its review next year.

The SCDF is working with certification bodies – which test cladding samples before certifying them as fit for use – to expedite their annual market surveillance audit of all cladding models with certificates of conformity. This to to verify they indeed comply with the Fire Code.

Typically, once the samples have passed the tests conducted by the certification bodies, the manufacturer will receive a certificate of conformity, which is valid for five years.

SCDF will also direct qualified persons – registered architects or professional engineers – to ensure the cladding used on their building projects have certificates of conformity. They will be required to submit the information to SCDF. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KELLY NG

 

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