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FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR

PUTRAJAYA: The Fire and Rescue Department will conduct checks on buildings nationwide to identify if they are using flammable or uncertified materials in their structure.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said this is following the fire incident on Employees Provident Fund's (EPF) building at Petaling Jaya, where part of its cladding was made of polystrene foam.

"Buildings or premises which use polystrene foam or any flammable materials as cladding are advised to remove them immediately. It is an offence for the building owners to use materials that are not certified by the department.

"Of course before the building received Certificate of Completion and Compliance, the department would make inspection in terms of its safety aspect.

"But then, when there is a renovation, the owners take it upon themselves by using flammable materials such as cladding and did not seek advise from the department," he said at a press conference, today.

Present was Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim.

Noh urged the public who have information on buildings which use flammable materials as part of its structure to report it to the department.

"Those who are suspicious about the materials installed in buildings can also contact the department so that the team can go down and check.

"We urge the premises and building owners to cooperate with the fire department. It is challenging for the department to go to every building just to check the materials of the structure.

"Every building, be it commercial, private or government buildings, and even houses, must adhere to the safety aspects set by the department. If they want to renovate or beautify the building, they must use certified materials only," he said.

Materials that are certified by the department include clay material for finishing materials for wall, aluminium composite panel and exterior compact high pressure laminates.

On the EPF fire incident, Noh said five percent of the building's exterior was affected by fire.

He said the full report on the EPF fire incident is expected to be completed in two weeks.

"There were repair works on the External Insulation Finishing System (waterproofing) leakage using the granule bitumen membrane roll. The waterproofing membrane had to be melted using single burner flame gun to allow the material to stick to the concrete floor.

"The source of ignition that caused the fire was from the liquefied petroleum gas. The spark landed on the cladding and fire spread quickly.

"I would like to stress that there is no foul play or sabotage elements in this case. It is classified as accidental fire," he said.

He also related to the last year's Grenfell Tower fire incident, where more than 70 people died in the tragedy.

"The structure of Grenfell Tower in London was made of flammable materials, which caused the fire to spread instantly and killed more than 70 people.

"We do not want such incident to happen here. Luckily our fire team arrived at the EPF building quickly and put out the fire in time. The blaze only affected the sixth floor and nobody was hurt.

"If it had gone longer, it could have destroy the whole building," he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd