The Dunedin City Council will investigate whether all its
multi-unit flats have appropriate firewalls, after a fire in
a block of council flats spread between units.
The Fire Service says the fire separation between the two
units did not reach all the way to the roof, allowing the
fire to travel through the roof cavity between them - a
situation it has expressed immediate concern about to the
The Fire Service is nearing completion of its investigation
into the fire in the block of council flats in Glen Rd on
A man in the unit where the fire started was treated for
smoke inhalation after being helped from the building by his
Fire safety officer Barry Gibson yesterday said the fire
started in the kitchen, possibly from unattended cooking.
Although the investigation was not complete, it had already
given rise to concerns about the firewalls and whether smoke
alarms were operating correctly in the building.
The firewall situation appeared to be the same along the
whole four-unit block, Mr Gibson said.
The block is one of several similar blocks located together
on the Glen Rd site.
The building code requires fire separation measures within
buildings to avoid fire and smoke from spreading to other
household units within the same building.
However, incomplete fire separation between flats in
multi-unit blocks was not uncommon in blocks built in the
1970s or 1980s and owners were not required to upgrade unless
they wanted to, or needed to gain a consent for new work on
the building, Mr Gibson said.
Building services manager Neil McLeod said the council's
building services and city property teams were aware of the
Fire Service's concerns and were waiting on its report before
continuing their own investigation into the exact issues and
The flats were likely built in the 1970s and under the
building system of the day would not have had the same
exacting compliance inspections as required now, Mr McLeod
These days building projects were specifically checked for
compliance with fire separation regulations.
There was no compulsion on owners to upgrade existing
non-complying fire separations, unless they were seeking
consents for making a change to the building, but owners
could upgrade voluntarily.
He did not know how many multi-unit council flats the council
owned, so it was too early to say how widespread the problem
If it found fire separations were not safe, the council would
get ''done what we need to be done'' to make them safe, he
Mr Gibson would meet council staff soon about the matter.
The council has nearly 1000 units in its community housing
stock, but it is not clear how many are in multi-unit