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Still insured and occupied: the Lacrosse building in Melbourne showing the path of the fire from a lower-floor balcony

were seen as innovative and cost-efficient, and the safety issues were just not picked up. “Building surveyors didn’t recognise the risk and fire safety engineers are rarely involved with a building facade,” he tells Insurance News. “The building code is poorly written and sometimes misunderstood. “Building surveyors need more education, and if good fire engineers were involved they would immediately pick up the problem. The process fell apart. There is nobody to check the building has been built correctly.” Mr Williams believes the code must be more clear in crucial areas. “There are scenarios where compliance doesn’t have safety impacts – but with cladding it can’t be negotiable,” he says. “You simply have to use a tested and approved product. “But it’s more a rearrangement of pathways rather than a case of scrapping the code and starting again.” However, Mr Savery defends the code and insists buildings that comply with it are safe. “Other parts of the [Lacrosse] building were compliant with the code and performed, and as a result no lives were lost,” he says. “There were features that had been tampered with. Smoke detectors had been covered with foil, fire extinguishers were blocked off. That’s a management issue, and nothing to do with the code. “It should be a performance-based code. All the key organisations would shudder at the idea of making it prescriptive. insuranceNEWS

August/September 2015

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Profile for Insurance News (the magazine)

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