New Zealand must avoid Grenfell-esque devastation

London’s Grenfell Tower fire, which has claimed at least 17 lives, has sparked debate around whether or not such devastation could be avoided in New Zealand.



Grenfell Tower, which was consumed by flames earlier this week, boasted a new cladding made of aluminum composite, commonly known as ACM.

ACM has been blamed for several building fires, worldwide, including the Docklands apartment blaze in Melbourne in 2015.

New Zealand law insists buildings taller than seven metres undergo cladding fire testing.

The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment notes: “In 2014/2015 several high-profile fires in Melbourne and Dubai highlighted the risk of combustible external cladding material on high-rise buildings.”

“Although these buildings were all fully sprinkler protected, fires that started on the outside of the building were responsible for rapid fire spread over several storeys.”

An MBIE spokesperson says New Zealand added: “New Zealand uses a combination of active and passive fire systems, which means each apartment in a building classified as a high rise acts as an individual fire compartment, designed to contain the spread of fire”.

“New Zealand also requires sprinkler systems throughout the building, plus early detection from smoke alarms. In the case of evacuation buildings are required to have a minimum of two stairs for high rise buildings.”