23 Nov 2017

New fire rules require 'bespoke' engineering on major buildings

8:47 pm on 23 November 2017

Changes to fire rules coming in tomorrow contradict what government officials said would happen, the Property Council says.

Close up of a fire truck

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The change means fire designs will have to be reviewed for a wide range of major buildings that are in the planning stage.

These include large shopping malls, high-rises over 20 storeys tall, hospitals, and care homes.

Some large multi-unit residential ones buildings seemed to be covered as well, council chief executive Connal Townsend said.

The council was still trying to figure out exactly what type of buildings were affected.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had apologised about the process, he said.

"It is Property Council's view that MBIE's conclusion is contrary to consultation undertaken with us and others in July.

"We are also concerned the announcement was communicated piecemeal with inadequate notice," he said in a note to council members today.

The ministry has given "an undertaking to work with the sector to manage the implications".

The rule change means a way of designing major buildings, called the verification method, will not be accepted anymore.

Instead, these would need "specific bespoke fire engineering", Mr Townsend said.

"For those buildings currently in the advanced stage of design (prior to the building consent being issued) this could require the fire engineering to be redone.

"For less advanced designs, the fire engineering required could be more than originally planned and costed."