Dunedin building owners are failing to comply with fire
safety legislation and can expect to be caught out this year.
Most commercial building owners are legally required to have
an evacuation scheme approved by the New Zealand Fire
Service, and to conduct trial evacuations every six months.
They must notify the Fire Service 10 working days before a
trial evacuation by lodging a completed form, and lodge
another form after the trial.
The Fire Service keeps records of compliance and
East Otago fire risk management officer Michael Harrison said
fire safety compliance would come under scrutiny this year.
''It [non-compliance] is a common thing. We are coming across
it more often than we would like, and we are making an effort
this year to look into compliance issues and act on them as
we see them,'' he said.
The issue was raised at a special licence application hearing
in Dunedin yesterday, involving tenants of Allbell Chambers
in lower Stuart St (Di Lusso) and 12 the Octagon (Macs Brew
Reading his submission at the hearing, Mr Harrison said an
evacuation scheme for Allbell Chambers was approved on
November 17, 2005, and for 12 the Octagon on July 29, 2010.
''Our records indicate there have been no trial evacuations
carried out at either building since the evacuation schemes
''It is the opinion of the Fire Service that the staff of
Macs Brew Bar and Di Lusso have not received sufficient
training through the trial evacuation process to ensure the
safe and efficient evacuation of the buildings in the event
of a fire,'' he said.
Outside the hearing, a director of the companies which owned
the buildings said he believed an administration error was
the reason the Fire Service had no record of trial
The director, Lauchlan Chisholm, said fire safety compliance
was taken very seriously and he was working to resolve the
Trial evacuations would be conducted as soon as possible if
they were overdue, Mr Chisholm said.
Mr Harrison said although building owners were responsible
for compliance, in many cases tenants suffered the
consequences of inaction.
''Worst case scenario, we can remove our approval for the
building's evacuation scheme, and that can have some pretty
significant repercussions ... for instance, in a bar
situation, if we remove our approval for the evacuation
scheme that means the liquor licence will be suspended and
they won't be able to trade any more.''
He said the Fire Service was not on a ''witch hunt'' and
would give non-compliant building owners ample time to carry
Building owners would be notified about their non-compliance
and asked to conduct a trial, and if they did not, they would
receive written requirement from the Fire Service to do so
within a certain period.
If they still failed to comply, the Fire Service would
involve the Dunedin City Council, he said.
''This is a very good reminder for building owners to have a
look at their evacuation scheme and plan a trial.''
The Fire Service Act 1975 stipulated criteria for buildings
which required an evacuation scheme, including those likely
to have 100 or more people in them at any time, 10 or more
workers, or more than five residents.