Cladding on the facade of Our Tampines Hub being removed after it was found not to have met fire safety standards.
SINGAPORE: When Parliament sits on Monday (Sep 11), questions will be asked about how building cladding that was not fire-safe got past regulations and inspections, and whether more stringent tests are needed.
The issue arose after it emerged last month that cladding used on a building involved in a deadly fire at 30 Toh Guan Road did not meet safety standards.
Construction firm Chip Soon Aluminium is under investigation for having supplied the cladding for the building, as well as similar cladding for scores of other buildings in Singapore.
Police investigations found that stocks of cladding panels with different fire safety ratings were mixed together at Chip Soon's warehouse, meaning that some of the buildings could be using external cladding with less stringent standards.
As the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) looks into a review of fire safety regulations and processes for certification, it has been gathering feedback from industry experts, who questioned if existing fire tests were too lenient, and suggested changes to the way in which the cladding panels are certified.
FIRE TESTS TOO LENIENT?
Consultant engineer Lee Seong Wee urged authorities to review the way cladding or composite panels are being tested for use in Singapore, saying that the existing test was too lenient.
The panels are made up of three layers: A thin, core material - which is combustible - sandwiched by two layers of aluminium materials which are non-combustible.
The requirement in Singapore is that the cladding panel must undergo a flame test on the core material instead of on the entire panel itself - but this was too lenient, said Mr Lee.
"If you imagine that the organic material would be the one that’s weakest, as far as fire is concerned, then I say, that part is stringent. If you consider the test itself to determine whether the material is suitable for an external cladding, then I say it’s a very weak test," he said.
"When you have a cladding, are you going to test it as close to what is the real situation, or are you going to use this method which is basically flame-spread and then interpret from that result?
"I would say definitely a full-scale test to be as representative of a real fire as possible because one thing we must understand is that in a real fire, you do not take the flame away.”
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