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Improve fire safety – Fire Service

Fires in rental properties have increased over the last five years and the Fire Service is urging landlords to do their bit to improve fire safety.

Wednesday, July 6th 2016, 2:00PM

by Miriam Bell

New data from the Fire Service shows there were 3214 house fires, which resulted in 17 deaths, nationwide in 2015.

This is as compared to 2011 when there were 2635 house fires, and 11 deaths, nationwide.

Of the 2015 total, 1233 were in rental properties and seven people died in rental property fires.

This is as compared to 2011 when 954 of the fires were in rental properties, and six people died in rental property fires.

Since July 2015, there have been 19 avoidable house fire fatalities in New Zealand – and 11, or 58%, of them occurred in rental properties.

According to the Fire Service, there were no working smoke alarms in nearly 80% of the total house fires (including both rental and owner-occupied properties) they attended last year.

However, as of July 1, it has become compulsory for smoke alarms to be installed in rental properties.

Under the newly amended Residential Tenancies Act, landlords must now ensure that:

• Working smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping space or within three metres of each bedroom door.
• Self-contained caravans or sleep outs have at least one working smoke alarm.
• Multi-story units have at least one working smoke alarm on each level.
• Long life photoelectric smoke alarms are installed where there are no existing alarms, and when existing smoke alarms are replaced.

Landlords must also check that smoke alarms still work at the start of each new tenancy, although tenants are responsible for replacing batteries (if required) during their tenancy.

The Fire Service’s fire risk management national advisor, Todd O’Donoghue, said the long-life photoelectric smoke alarms are great for rentals.

“That’s because the batteries are built-in, so you never have to change them, and the alarm can’t be tampered with.”

As an example of the effectiveness of smoke alarms, O’Donoghue cited a recent incident in Whanganui where the landlord had installed the alarm only a day before a fire broke out.

“A neighbour called 111 after hearing the smoke alarm from next door. While the property suffered some smoke damage, it could’ve been a lot worse by the time flames and smoke were visible.

“Most importantly, no-one was harmed. House fires can kill in less than five minutes, which is why early warning is so important.”

The Fire Service’s guide to the installation of smoke alarms can be seen here.

The NZ Property Investors Federation offers a discounted smoke alarm purchasing scheme for members and is currently in discussions with the Fire Service about fire safety in rental properties.

« NZPIF added to meth committeeAuckland’s rental hot spots »

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HSBC Premier 5.49 4.39 5.15 5.39
HSBC Premier LVR > 80% - - - -
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HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 5.25 ▲4.29 ▲5.09 ▲5.35
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Pepper Essential 3.44 - - -
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Median 5.45 4.55 5.25 5.52

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