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NSW urged to tighten fire safety laws

The remains of cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower, London. At least 58 people are now missing and presumed dead in the Grenfell Tower disaster, police have said. Photo EPA/Will Oliver

The remains of cladding on the outside of Grenfell Tower, London. At least 58 people are now missing and presumed dead in the Grenfell Tower disaster, police have said. Photo EPA/Will Oliver

Belinda Tasker

SYDNEY [AAP]

The NSW government is being urged to introduce laws to make it compulsory for fire safety systems to be installed and maintained by qualified people following the deadly London tower block blaze.

The National Fire Industry Association (NFIA) says only people with appropriate skills, knowledge and nationally-recognised qualifications should be allowed to design, install, maintain and certify fire safety systems.

The organisation has welcomed moves by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to set up a safety task force to identify any buildings at risk of similar fires to the one in London’s Grenfell Tower where at least 58 people died last week, but says more needs to be done.

Cheap cladding is thought to have played a part in helping the blaze spread quickly through the 24-storey tower.

NFIA chief executive Wayne Smith said with government documents showing as many as 2,500 buildings in NSW could be fitted with similar cladding, more needs to be done to tighten fire safety standards.

Mr Smith said NSW needs to follow Victoria and Queensland in introducing the highest fire safety standards in the country to minimise potential dangers posed by cladding and tackle the amount of non-compliant and dangerous building materials that have been ‘flooding the domestic market for some time now’.

‘NFIA believes that the government should introduce legislation that ensures all fire safety systems are designed, installed, maintained and certified only by those practitioners with appropriate skills, knowledge and nationally-recognised qualifications,’ he said in a statement on Monday.

‘We are calling for mandated standards of expertise, that are aligned with nationally-recognised, approved and registered fire protection qualifications that are independently supervised and audited by the federal government’s Australian Skills Quality Authority.’

There have been claims the cladding installed on the Grenfell Tower during a renovation last year may not have complied with British building regulations.

Ms Berejiklian on Sunday said the NSW government had been working behind the scenes since the London disaster to ensure residents are protected.

‘We’ve got our agencies working with a sense of urgency about this and as soon as we can we’ll bring forward any action we need to take,’ she said.


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