Defective fire safety systems have been uncovered at more than half of multi-storey residential building sites across Sydney and Wollongong.

During a recent audit of 21 multi-storey residential building sites across the two cities, officers from NSW Fair Trading uncovered faulty fire safety systems at 11 sites.

Defects identified include faulty fire doors, inadequate fire hydrant equipment during construction and poor sealing of gaps and voids near pipes and wall spaces to slow or stop the spread of smoke and flames.

Urgent notices were issued at two sites. These involved ordering the installation of fire hydrants and portable extinguishers.

Further concerns were also uncovered regarding the safety of construction workers on site, with unsatisfactory practices regarding working at height being the most common.

The latest audits come as NSW is undertaking a program of reform to improve building quality and safety across the state.

Led by Building Commissioner David Chandler, the program aims to improve building practices and restore confidence in residential apartment buildings following the discovery of serious cracks in the Opal and Mascot Towers in 2018 and 2019 and combustible cladding on hundreds of apartment complexes across the state.

Conducted over two two-day periods spanning August 24-25 and September 28-29, the inspections focused on buildings which are classified as being either Class 2, Class 3 or Class 9c buildings under the National Construction Code.

This includes apartment buildings, residential aged care, boarding houses and student accommodation.

Features such as sprinklers, fire alarms and smoke management are a critical part of fire safety within these buildings as they enable occupants to safely exit their buildings in the event of a fire.

NSW Fair Trading is now working with independent certifiers at several sites to ensure these issues are fixed before an occupation certificate is issued and residents can move in.

Officers will revisit sites as necessary to monitor compliance with fire safety protections.

Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann says the importance of fire safety systems in buildings should not be underestimated.

“Our NSW Fair Trading Officers have been busy over the few past months, highlighting their dedication to raise building industry standards,” Mann said.

“Fire safety systems are critical to the protection of residents in the event of a fire and saves lives.

“Defective fire protection in the construction stage is unacceptable. We won’t tolerate anyone cutting corners.”


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