Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did unapproved building alterations exacerbate a fatal Bankstown apartment blaze?

There is evidence to suggest that illegal building alterations may have contributed to a recent fatal  fire in an apartment building at Bankstown.1 The fire reached an explosive state known as 'flashover' in its first 15 minutes, and the intense heat led two young women to jump from the fifth-floor balcony, where the fire had started.2 Yinuo Jiang, a 27-year-old student, managed to survive the fall - although she is still recovering from severe injuries. Her friend, 21-year-old Connie Zhang, died at the scene.

According to a recent Sydney Morning Herald report, the roof which covered an interior atrium was not included in plans approved by council.3 The enclosed atrium is thought to have contributed to the accumulation of trapped dense smoke inside the building, which hindered residents' access to internal fire escapes. (To read more about this tragic accident, login to the ANZ Reference Centre (Ebsco) with your library card's barcode.)

The Building Code of Australia (BCA) provides the minimum regulatory requirements for all building work in Australia. If you would like to access the BCA and Standards Online database for quick and convenient access to vital building information, ask staff at the information desk of Hurstville Library to log you in with the required password.


1Sean Nicholls and Josephine, T 2012, 'Roof of fatal fire block 'not approved'', Sydney Morning Herald,  8 September, Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 October 2012. 

2Stuart Washington, A 2012, 'Fire flat building changes: 15 minutes to 'flashover'', Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September, Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 October 2012.

3 Op.cit.

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