Sydney constructions sites ablaze with fire safety defects

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
3 Min Read

Several residential and aged care buildings under construction are failing to meet fire safety standards, according to a recent audit.

Officers from the NSW Fair Trading found more than 50 per cent of the recently inspected building sites across the Sydney and Wollongong region had defective fire safety systems, with some issued urgent notices to address the issue.

Fire safety system defects were found at 11 of the 21 construction sites inspected, which will go on to become residential apartments, aged care facilities, boarding houses and student accommodation.

Officers at some sites handed out urgent notices after finding issues, including faulty fire doors, inadequate fire hydrant equipment, poor gap sealing, and fire pathway voids near pipes and wall spaces.

Fair Trading Commissioner Natasha Mann says the findings demonstrated the importance of early intervention and assured BuildIT readers that the issues would be fixed.

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

“Fire safety systems are critical to protecting residents in the event of a fire and saving lives.”

Statewide blitz on construction compliance

The construction site crackdown comes as the NSW Fair Trading building and construction compliance team continues a statewide blitz on compliance operations across the state, checking tradespeople are appropriately licensed and work is done to standard.

Inspection results were more positive in the NSW Forster region, with officers reviewing 50 residential and apartment building sites last week and finding reasonable compliance.

The team also visited 42 sites in northeast NSW, with seven warnings and four fines issued, with the most common fault being signage.

Meanwhile, 45 residential building sites were audited in early September as part of an operation focused on unlicensed workers at “knockdown and rebuild” projects in the state’s northwest.

NSW Fair Trading Assistant Building Commissioner Matthew Whitton says the proactive inspections would help boost confidence in the construction sector.

“We are taking a proactive approach to ensure building projects are appropriately licensed and complying with the right standards,” he said.

“(Things like) home building compensation insurance is critical to protecting buyers and consumers if work cannot be completed on the project.”

“These inspections are part of the Construct NSW transformation strategy to restore confidence in our residential building market.”

Increased proactive compliance of specialist building practitioners is one of NSW Fair Trading’s regulatory priorities for 2023, specifically on certifiers, electricians, engineers, and plumbers, with those caught without the required trade licenses for carrying out work fined.

Commissioner Mann says the audits would help raise building standards.

“Thanks to NSW Fair Trading, these issues will be fixed. Early intervention is key to quality buildings for the people of NSW,” she said.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.