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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Government officials ‘disappointed’ Kelkiah apartments residents told to evacuate

Despite official advice to the contrary, owners and residents of the Kelkiah apartment complex in Macquarie were notified to evacuate the building urgently by strata management last night following the discovery of structural issues in the building’s basement.

Structural and fire safety concerns have been raised with relation to structural columns in the 12-year-old, four-storey apartment block’s basement.

ACT Construction Occupations Registrar Ben Green said he found it “disappointing” to have reached the position where residents were instructed to evacuate the premises.

“We had a clear view yesterday when we had attended the site with ACT Fire and Rescue, the appointed engineers and experts for the owners’ corporation, that there was a clear path that did not involve the evacuation of residents,” he said.

The ACT Government first became aware of the structural issues in question in the Kelkiah apartment complex on 10 December.

Mr Green said that “at this stage, there is no requirement for residents or occupants of the building to evacuate”.

“We’re working with the owners’ corporation, and they will soon be sending correspondence to the occupants and the residents to inform them that there is no decision by ACT Government to force the evacuation of the building at this time,” he said.

“The advice that we have provided today has been in relation to removing vehicles and other items from the basement. The purpose of this is to ensure there is a limited fuel source down there and also to enable the rectification works that are required to be undertaken,” Mr Green said.

It will rest with the owners’ corporation as to who conducts the rectification works.

Mr Green said he understood the owners’ corporation have already engaged contractors to undertake some of those works.

Superintendent Community Safety ACT Fire and Rescue Greg Mason said the structural issues in the basement would cause issue in the event of a significant fire.

“The building currently complies with all the relevant ACT fire safety requirements. It is as adequately protected as any other building of its age and construction type within the Territory,” he said.

“In the event of a significant fire, there is the potential at this stage that the building may be impacted greater than what it has been designed for.”

The builder of the Kelkiah apartment complex was subject to the ACT Construction Occupations office in relation to other defects at that site.

They chose not to comply with those orders, with that matter is due to be taken through prosecution via the ACT Magistrates Court in early January.

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