Over half resort nightclubs had exit blockages

Paul Glanville
Paul Glanville
More than half Queenstown's nightclubs have been found to be breaching fire regulations because of partially blocked exits.

The Fire Service's new fire risk manager for the Queenstown Lakes district, Paul Glanville, has visited 15 bars and nightclubs in the past few weeks and found ''over half'' with exits blocked by ''cardboard boxes, kegs, rubbish bins and stuff like that''.

The breaches found were ''easy fixes'', but exits were critical during emergency evacuations and had to be kept completely clear, he said.

Mr Glanville, who left Invercargill to take up the position a month ago, said it was the first appointment of its type in the country since a major reorganisation of the Fire Service two years ago.

The appointment was the result of lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquakes and the World Bar fire in Queenstown last year.

His other duties, fire investigation and community education, had been ''put aside'' for the next six months so he could work with nightclubs and accommodation providers to reduce fire risk.

''These issues aren't new, but the fire service has lacked the resources to be vigilant about liaising and collaborating with building owners and managers to get it right.''

He discussed the issue with the Queenstown Lakes District Council and police this week and found that ''everyone's on the same page''.

''We manage the risk, be proactive and make sure our visitors are safe.''

He intended to make follow-up visits to nightclubs and accommodation providers on a more frequent basis to ''educate, rectify and hopefully get a change of behaviour''.

If that approach failed, a business could be found in breach of its liquor licence.

''We hope we don't have to go there - we would like to think communication is the key,'' Mr Glanville said.

''The good thing about what we are seeing is there are some pretty simple fixes that just require a change in behaviour of some of the managers and owners.''