Cladding on Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital – among the largest in Queensland – has been confirmed as combustible, sparking contingency plans to safeguard the building.
After rigorous testing, the Queensland government confirmed the news on Wednesday but said more tests were required to see if it poses a fire risk to patients and staff.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said the government was waiting on the results of final testing and would speak to experts about how to deal with the problem.
But he remained confident the hospital is safe, saying it was well built and fitted with sprinklers and fire alarms throughout.
“Every building in Queensland has combustible material in it, we have to determine what is the risk and what is the response to that risk,” Mr Dick told reporters on Wednesday.
“The PA Hospital has stood there for 17 years, it is a concrete building that has cladding around it – it’s quite different to the Grenfell situation.”
The Grenfell Tower in London was engulfed in flames last month, killing 79 people and sparking concerns about flammable building cladding worldwide.
It comes as the Labor government admits they haven’t told tenants or residents in a private building that they could be at risk.
Four private buildings were identified as having similar cladding material to the PA Hospital, with three of those cleared and one remaining under a cloud.
Housing Minister Mick de Brenni wouldn’t publicly reveal the building due to privacy concerns and said it was up to the building’s owner to let residents know about the testing.
“That’s a matter for the building owners but I can assure all Queenslanders that we have an outstanding Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, that is dedicated to keeping those residents safe,” Mr de Brenni said.
“There is no evidence of any other building whatsoever having questionable cladding.”
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said they had planned for a “worst case scenario” when they first found out the PA cladding was potentially flammable, and those arrangements would remain in place.
“If there was a fire and we were called to that today, there would be 18 firefighters, four pumpers and aerial and command vehicle immediately,” she said.
Around 80 square metres of cladding has been removed from different parts of the hospital for testing.
The next round of tests is expected to take about a month and is being conducted by a company from Melbourne.
The government has identified three possible courses of action once testing is complete: remove and replace the cladding entirely; treat the cladding to prevent flammability; or install extra fire suppression measures at the hospital.