Cladding of Singapore Pools building fails fire-safety tests

It joins 15 other buildings found by SCDF to have non-compliant material

The Singapore Pools building in Middle Road (pictured) has been found to have cladding that does not adhere to fire-safety standards.
The Singapore Pools building in Middle Road (pictured) has been found to have cladding that does not adhere to fire-safety standards.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

The Singapore Pools building in Middle Road has been found to have cladding that does not adhere to fire safety standards, joining a list of 15 other buildings that have non-compliant material on their facades.

Meanwhile, checks are ongoing for another 20 buildings. They include Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church, JTC LaunchPad @ one-north and Guoco Tower.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) posted the latest development on its website last night. This is its first update since it made public the news nearly two weeks ago that 36 buildings here may be using combustible cladding from American brand Alubond, which allow flames to spread quicker than they are supposed to.

Of these, 16 have now been found to fail fire-safety tests.

Separately, Changi Airport Group told The Straits Times that the new Terminal 4 uses cladding material from Alubond, but that it has been tested and found to be compliant with fire-safety rules. It is among five buildings with Alubond cladding that have passed SCDF checks.

The panels in the 16 affected buildings, made of an aluminium composite material by Alubond, were found to be non-Class 0 rated.

Cladding is typically used to beautify building exteriors and to insulate the building from heat. Class 0 cladding, the most stringent fire rating, is the only type of combustible panel material allowed for external facades.

The owners of buildings whose cladding were found to be non-Class 0 have two months to remove the cladding, SCDF said on Aug 24. Meanwhile, it added, the buildings are safe for occupancy as they have been found to have adequate fire-safety provisions, such as escape routes and sprinklers. The proportion of cladding as facade material was also found to be low.

Non-compliant cladding came into the spotlight after the facade of an office building at 30, Toh Guan Road, caught fire, killing a 54-year-old woman. According to preliminary findings, the building had used a mix of Class 0 and non-Class 0 cladding material.

The investigations also revealed that the panel's sole distributor, Chip Soon Aluminium, had mixed together the stocks of the two materials in its warehouse. Chip Soon has since denied in an interview with broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia that there was a mix-up.

The Singapore Pools building is the gaming company's headquarters, housing its corporate offices, main branch, a draw hall and other office tenants. It features extensive metallic cladding and glass windows on its outer facade. A fire had broken out within the building on June 16, but the cladding was not affected. No one was injured.

Singapore Pools moved its operations from PoMo in Selegie Road to the current building at the junction of Middle Road and Prinsep Street in February 2013.

A police report has been filed by SCDF and an investigation into how non-Class 0 composite panels ended up on external walls is still ongoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Cladding of Singapore Pools building fails fire-safety tests'. Subscribe