Malaysian Institute of Architects: Follow regulations when selecting building materials

Flammable cladding was cited as the reason for the fire at the Jalan Gasing EPF buiilding. — Photo by Mukhriz Hazim
Flammable cladding was cited as the reason for the fire at the Jalan Gasing EPF buiilding. — Photo by Mukhriz Hazim

PETALING JAYA, Feb 15 — The Malaysian Institute of Architects (MIA) today urged those tasked with selecting building materials to to follow regulations concerning flammable materials and stay away from the use of illegal cladding. 

The term 'cladding' refers to components that are attached to the primary structure of a building to form non-structural, external surfaces.

In a statement MIA president Ezumi Harzani Ismail said the plastic cladding on the Employees Provident Fund building along Jalan Gasing, which went up in flames on Tuesday, was not the same as the aluminium composite used on the Grenfell Tower in London which resulted in a deadly fire but was equally flammable.

“It is important to have fire risk separation or compartmentation on every floor of a high-rise building. Building facade materials that are poly-foam or poly-ethylene based are not permitted.

“This is to prevent flame from spreading through the external facade of buildings in the event of a fire,” he said.

Ezumi urged architects and specifiers to look at safety concerns and not just the look of the building when selecting materials.

“MIA urges all architects and specifiers to ensure building materials selection and specifications are not just selected for aesthetic reasons but ensure it withstands extreme weather conditions and are compliant with building safety requirements.

The Uniform Building By Laws 1984 (UBBL 1984) enacted under the Street Drainage And Building Act 1974 states that any building skin (cladding) system that contains combustible materials will not be allowed to be used in any building higher than 18m (or 5 storeys).

Ezumi said both the EPF and Grenfell Tower had been renovated from their original design with the use of cladding to change their appearance but the selection of material went wrong.

“Poly-foam and composite panel materials are usually selected for its lightweight character and weather resistance property. Unfortunately, it comes with high risk of fire, which many people do not realise.”

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