SCDF: Other cladding breaches unlikely
Cost an issue if every building with aluminium composite panels are checked
Beyond the 36 buildings that had installed potentially problematic cladding panels, there is no reason to believe that other buildings in Singapore contravene fire safety regulations, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
In a reply to The Straits Times last night, it said: "At this juncture, there is no reason to suspect that there has been improper usage or inconsistent quality of other cladding brands or models."
This was in response to a question on whether there is a need to check all buildings that use aluminium composite cladding, to reassure building owners and occupants the materials are safe, in the wake of Thursday's announcements that some buildings' facades do not meet the Fire Code.
These buildings had all used Alubond panels, supplied by Chip Soon Aluminium.
Industry players said there are potentially hundreds of buildings that use other brands of aluminium composite panels (ACP) as external cladding beyond Alubond, which had been supplied to 41 companies here.
Mr Chong Kee Sen, former president of the Institute of Engineers, Singapore, said the rise in popularity of cladding is a global trend, as cladding helps to enhance insulation of a building, making it more energy-efficient as it is protected from external heat, or cold, in the case of temperate countries.
Mr Chong said: "It is probably a good (time) to carry out a closer review of the requirements for the different types of cladding used."
But cost would be an issue, said others.
Principal architect of TBL Architects Tan Beng Leong warned that checking every single building with ACP cladding may be a resource drain on both SCDF and building owners, who will have to replace samples destroyed during fire testing.
He suggested incorporating on-site testing of ACP cladding during SCDF's regular audits of buildings, which is currently not included.
Mr Tan said: "Since SCDF already conducts thousands of these audits yearly, I believe it has the ability to do it."
Sales executive Amanda Jiang, whose firm SinMetal International is the sole distributor of Darren ACP, a Chinese brand, said it competes with around 10 other brands that are sold here.
Her firm has supplied panels to three projects here.
She said: "There are two models of ACP, a fireproof and a non-fireproof one.
"In Singapore, only the fireproof versions are sold so there is little chance of a mix-up."
The checks by the SCDF were triggered by a fire in May at an industrial building in Toh Guan Road, in which a woman was killed.
The authorities launched "comprehensive on-site fire safety assessments" on 40 other buildings that use the same brand of cladding material, Alubond, SCDF said on Thursday.
Of these, 15 failed tests for the required Class 0 standard, which does not allow flames to spread on the surface.