Reader Response - Draft 3 (Final - Submission)
According to the article "Use of Cladding in Buildings Here Have Grown in Recent Times," by Faris Mokhtar (2017), cladding is the application of overlapping an underlying structure with another material to improve buildings sustainability but cladding could increase the fire hazards risk of buildings. The article mentioned that an investigation was done on Grenfell Tower incident and discovered that flammable materials used for cladding might have contributed in intensifying the flame. Engineering experts mentioned that the popularity of cladding had increased recently for several reasons such as enhancing the aesthetic outlook of buildings, eliminating noises, safeguarding from rain and insulating the buildings. Faris mentioned that application of cladding may vary with climates. In colder climates, cladding is filled with thermal insulation while in hotter climates such as Singapore, cladding serves as an extra facade layer to provide shading. With the increase in usage of cladding along with the potential fire hazards, enforcement of safety standard by government authorities may assist in mitigating the potential fire hazards of cladding to ensure it is safe for buildings.
In Singapore, an island-wide inspection was carried out by Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) on buildings with cladding and 36 buildings’ cladding were found to have failed the fire class 0 standard. SCDF stated that Fire class 0 materials are inflammable and prevent the fire from spreading along their surface. SCDF tracked all the composites panels that were used for cladding to a local distributor who had mixed up the ignition classes of the two different models from an American Brand. According to the article by Loh (2017), Loh mentioned that the fire incident occurred at the industrial building estate at 30 Toh Guan Road, were using flammable cladding and after a thorough investigation by SCDF, SCDF consulted the industrial buildings estates to remove all cladding that failed the fire class 0 standard to prevent the reoccurrence of the similar incident.
SCDF has taken extra measurements in endorsing registered architects and engineers, including House and Development Board(HDB), ensuring cladding used are of fire class 0 standard. SCDF stated that if any buildings were found to have failed to meet the fire class 0 standards, they will be given 2 months to remove the cladding. According to the article by Ong (2017), Singapore continues to maintain the lowest fire fatalities rate in the world through high enforcement of fire safety standard to all buildings while seeking for better implementation. With SCDF overlooking the entire fire safety of buildings in Singapore, it is evident that Singapore takes the safety of all buildings to be a very serious matter.
As much as government authorities have enforced on the fire safety standards of cladding materials, it does not eliminate fire safety risk of building as cladding can potentially serve as a chimney which intensifies combustion. According to an article by Boult (2017), fire can spread upwards through the chimney formed by the gap between cladding and the exterior of building walls through convection. Boult mentioned that convection also allows the fire to have complete combustion which intensifies the blaze. Although materials used are fire class 0, convection allows the fire to spread into possible open windows and into the interior of the building burning down all combustible furniture.
In conclusion, external government authorities, such as SCDF, implementing strict fire safety standards on cladding can only minimize the threat to a significantly safe level for buildings. With the increasing popularity of cladding and the strong enforcement of fire safety standards, it is evident that the possibility of an outbreak of fire due cladding is near to none.
Use of Cladding in Buildings Here Have Grown in Recent Times. (2017). Today Online. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/use-cladding-buildings-here-have-grown-recent-times-experts
36 buildings may have combustible cladding that doesn’t meet safety standards; police investigating. (2017). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/36-buildings-may-have-combustible-cladding-that-doesn-t-meet-9153588
Guarding against a Grenfell-like disaster in Singapore. (2017). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/guarding-against-a-grenfell-like-disaster-in-singapore-8985482
What is cladding, and why can it be a fire risk? (2017). Telegraph. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/cladding-fire-risk-grenfell-tower/