Fears of fatal fire prompt alarm call

Fire Service fears of a fatal house fire in Queenstown are growing because of the resort's housing shortage.

Central-North Otago manager Keith McIntosh, who is based in Queenstown, is imploring landlords to ensure tenants have working smoke alarms - ‘‘especially if they're packing tenants in their premises''.

Mr McIntosh said Queenstown did not get many fires but the fact there had not been a fatal incident was more down to luck than safe practice.

‘‘If you add that additional fuel of alcohol, if that is involved, then you've got a pretty lethal mix there of overcrowding, [lack of] smoke alarms and alcohol.

‘‘We're concerned that there's a real potential for fire fatalities in Queenstown - particularly in overcrowded accommodation, because obviously the more overcrowded they are, the greater the number of fatalities that there is the potential to be.''

A law change requires smoke alarms to be installed in all tenanted properties from July 1.

Last year, Housing Minister Nick Smith said the regulations would make landlords responsible for providing an operational smoke alarm, while tenants had to replace batteries and notify landlords of defects.

Mr McIntosh said providing smoke alarms was a moral obligation.

‘‘I would strongly encourage landlords to make sure their tenants are as safe as possible.''


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