The Blame Game and So Called Non-Conforming Building Products

Picture of John Rakic

John Rakic

John Rakic is the proud Owner and Managing Director of Trafalgar Group with over 20 years of experience in the passive fire industry.

This is just a snippet of the full article. To read the entire article, download the pdf today.


For the majority of my working life I have been working in the Australian construction industry. I have been involved with the manufacture and supply of specialty building products with an emphasis on fire protection and mostly with so called passive fire protection or fire stopping systems.

I was also a keen sportsman; having captained my AFL, Soccer and Cricket teams and won premierships and wooden spoons alike.

I think I can draw many parallels between sport, family life and working life; when things are going well everybody says it is their doing, but sadly when things are going badly, everyone runs for cover and people inevitably start blaming others. To fix the problems, often we need someone to stand up and lead from the front; to facilitate a shift in paradigm. This shift involves accepting that we have some problems, and that no one alone is at fault, and that no one gets to blame anyone else. We work together to create a strong and united TEAM and ultimately if this is done correctly, the root causes of the problems are identified, and the team players start working together and if this is done properly, often things quickly improve and ultimately the problems get solved. Blame, creates friction and stifles effective communication; and without communication there is no TEAM and problems escalate.

Sadly, when it comes to the construction industry; all I see is blame; there is too much friction and things are not working.

Just like the cladding and fires, waterproofing and our cracking buildings for example where things aren’t quite right, I think passive fire protection is one area that could use some leadership and a shift in paradigm.

In this article I am going to accept there is problem; that no one thing or group of people are at fault; and call a spade-a-spade and suggest how each and every area could improve to ultimately solve the problems.

Where do I start?

A good friend of mine told me to watch a documentary about Bill Gates and his time after Microsoft. How inspiring; thousands of people die daily from sanitation problems; the simple privilege of having a toilet and functioning sewerage system just don’t exist in many parts of the world. This causes people to die from diarrhea of all things. Bill Gates and his wife saw knew there was a problem and set out to facilitate a total shift in paradigm and invoke innovative ideas to start addressing the problem and finding solutions.

Watching this documentary made me think of the problems our construction industry is facing and I thought it might be prudent to do a brain dump and put forward some observation and ideas which might add to the work going on to improve the confidence people are losing in our construction industry.

The Parties

These are some of the parties I will discuss further later in this article:

  • Government and Building Regulations
  • ABCB
  • Developer
  • Builder
  • Architect
  • Consultants for:
    • Fire Safety
    • Building Services
    • Passive Fire Protection
  • Building Surveyors / Certifiers
  • Sub-contractors for installation of:
    • Fire barriers (walls, floors, shafts, ceilings and the like)
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical
    • Refrigeration
    • HVAC
    • Passive fire protection
  •  Manufacturer / suppliers of passive fire protection products / materials
  • Industry or Trade Associations
  •  Fire Services
  • Insurers
  • Building owner
  • Tennant / occupier of building
  • Strata Managers
  • Media

Most readers will fall into one of these categories; do you feel you are to blame at all for the quality of our buildings or for poor or non-compliant passive fire protection?

Government and Building Regulations

I have always said to my friends or others who ask what I do is what I like most about fire protection and being involved in this area of construction, is that people do it because they have to not because they want to; so all building require fire protection. I am more technically orientated that sales and marketing so at least what I make or sell has a chance of being purchased and used because all building need it.

Why is this so?

It’s the law!

Yes, you guessed it we have legislation for control of buildings; this legislation can be split into a few areas covering safety of building and building occupants.

So called administrative provisions, which require for example a development application process, a building permit, fees and the like. Sadly these vary in each State & Territory of Australia and this I see as one problem. This is where the building control process and mechanism is covered and whereby a Building Surveyor or Certifier (depending on what State you are building in), has ultimate responsibility for approving a building for final occupancy. Forgive me for the simplistic overview but I think it covers roughly how it works.

This is just a snippet of the full article. To read the entire article, download the pdf today.