Workers start removing problematic cladding

Workers removing cladding at 3, Pioneer Sector 3, yesterday afternoon. While checks are ongoing, 15 of the 36 buildings identified by SCDF are confirmed to have installed some non-compliant panels.
Workers removing cladding at 3, Pioneer Sector 3, yesterday afternoon. While checks are ongoing, 15 of the 36 buildings identified by SCDF are confirmed to have installed some non-compliant panels.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
When The Straits Times visited 3, Pioneer Sector 3, at around 2.30pm yesterday, workers had already removed around 10 of about 80 panels, which were installed during an upgrading exercise in 2015.
When The Straits Times visited 3, Pioneer Sector 3, at around 2.30pm yesterday, workers had already removed around 10 of about 80 panels, which were installed during an upgrading exercise in 2015.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The process of removing problematic metal cladding is already under way at some buildings, following Thursday's announcement that 36 may have contravened the Fire Code.

At 3, Pioneer Sector 3, workers were seen stripping panels off the industrial building yesterday afternoon.

When The Straits Times arrived at 2.30pm, they had already removed around 10 of about 80 panels, which were installed during an upgrading exercise in 2015.

On Thursday, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said its investigations revealed that 36 buildings may be using external cladding that does not adhere to safety standards.

Only Class 0 or non-combustible panels can be used as external cladding. However, the SCDF said that Chip Soon Aluminium, which supplied the cladding material found on all affected buildings, had mixed two different models - one of which had a Class 1 rating. Flames spread quicker with Class 1 panels than with those rated Class 0. Some of the panels rated as Class 0 also did not meet the requirement to prevent surface spread of fire.

While checks are ongoing, 15 of the buildings have been confirmed to have installed some non-compliant panels.

 

The affected buildings include 3, Pioneer Sector 3, as well as 30, Toh Guan Road, where a fire broke out in May and killed a 54-year-old woman.

 

Both buildings are managed by ESR-Reit, which said that the aluminium composite panels were compliant with fire safety guidelines at the point of installation.

This was echoed by Eng Wah Global, which owns affected shopping mall 321 Clementi.

In a statement, Eng Wah said that during the early stages of the project, Chip Soon Aluminium had provided a cladding sample that was approved based on its Class 0 rating. "We were not aware that the cladding presently on the building does not align with what was selected and approved," an Eng Wah spokesman said.

It added that architecture firm Aedas and Chong Tong Construction, which were engaged for the mall's construction, are working "round the clock" to work out a plan to remove and replace the affected portions.

JTC, which manages CleanTech Two at eco-business park CleanTech Park, said that it would be removing the non-compliant panels there today.

Five blocks at its LaunchPad @ one-north are also affected, but have not been tested. A JTC spokesman said that it has arranged with the SCDF to send samples for testing on Monday and Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'Workers start removing problematic cladding'. Print Edition | Subscribe