The Queensland government is not ruling out pursuing compensation after being forced to order the removal of potentially deadly flammable cladding from a hospital. More than 20,000 square metres, or two-and-a-half times the size of Suncorp Stadium, of combustible cladding will be stripped from the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
The works come after further testing of the cladding on the hospital at Buranda confirmed preliminary findings. Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said the government’s number one focus was on removing and replacing the cladding on the Princess Alexandra Hospital. But he but did not rule out taking further action when asked about whether the government would pursue a compensation claim against the building company or other parties involved in constructing the Brisbane hospital.
“I will take advice from the appropriate agencies but we won’t be letting any blame game distract us from making sure that the PA Hospital continues to be safe for patients, staff and families,” Mr de Brenni said. Asked how much the works would cost, Mr de Brenni said the government would be diligent with building contracts. “[But] it will be safety rather than cost that will continue to be our number one consideration,” he said. The works at the PA hospital could cost tens of millions of dollars.
The government is currently procuring a builder to perform the removal and replacement works at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. A Queensland taskforce investigating products used in buildings built between 1994 and 2004 is auditing 21 government-owned and 20 privately-owned buildings. Another four buildings have already been cleared. Logan Hospital is the only other health facility where cladding has been sent for testing, but it involves different material to the PA Hospital, and initial testing showed some fire-retardant qualities.
The composite cladding on the Logan Hospital comprises about 13 per cent of the exterior, or about 5000 square metres. Work to begin removing the cladding from the PA Hospital will begin within four weeks, with the removal and replacement due to take up to 18 months. A new material might not appear on the hospital until later in 2018. But Mr de Brenni assured Queenslanders the building was safe and would continue operating during the works. The focus on non-fire-retardant cladding comes after the deadly fire at the Grenfell Tower building in London.
Meanwhile, the body representing Australia’s insulated building panel industry said hysteria surrounding building cladding needed to stop so solutions could be found for the real causes of fire in high-rise buildings. Insulated Panel Council Australasia chief executive Ron Lawson said the discussion on preventing building fires should not be limited to cladding. “There are many products and materials that are used in building construction, yet recent media attention has been focused solely on cladding,” Mr Lawson said. “Cladding does not cause fires. London’s Grenfell blaze in June was caused by an electrical fault, while cigarette butts being thrown into a potted plant caused the Torch Tower fire in Dubai in August.”
Sourced from www.brisbanetimes.com.au