Auckland accommodation reveals fire safety concerns, according to council study

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Fire safety gaps found in Auckland’s budget lodgings

A concerning number of budget accommodations in Auckland are showing gaps in their fire safety measures, according to a recent study by Auckland Council.

Council’s findings on fire safety

Auckland Council’s inspections team discovered issues in approximately 50% of the 170 buildings they inspected.

This inspection was prompted by a tragic fire incident at Loafers Lodge in May, which drew attention to potential fire hazards in similar accommodations.

Two of these buildings were severe enough to warrant a dangerous building notice.

Furthermore, another 80 displayed various fire safety concerns such as exits blocked by rubbish or improperly used smokestop doors.

Jeff Fahrensohn, the Auckland Council inspections manager, commented: “It was a surprise how many low-cost accommodation providers had fire safety deficiencies.”

He noted the building managers’ and owners’ apparent lack of knowledge on fire safety as a significant concern.

Details of the safety lapses

While compromised alarm systems weren’t an issue in the inspected properties, 40 to 50% showed other deficiencies.

The two most concerning buildings, which each housed between 50 to 100 residents, had problems like malfunctioning emergency lights and obstructed exits.

However, they continue to operate with added security measures.

Fahrensohn assured that if any building posed an immediate threat, they would’ve evacuated it.

Interestingly, these two properties had passed their previous audit without any noted issues.

Other buildings with concerns had issues like blocked exits, which were promptly addressed.

Legal and future implications

By law, the responsibility of maintaining safety systems lies with the building owners.

They are mandated to perform routine checks and undergo regular expert building warrant of fitness audits.

Fahrensohn stated the need for more education on this matter but also affirmed, “we’ll escalate to enforcement where we have to”.

Of the 170 buildings investigated, 13 were under further scrutiny by the council.

Meanwhile, the government has a list of 70 similar buildings nationwide, but Auckland Council has already audited those in its region.

As for the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) initiating a separate audit, Fahrensohn mentioned they’re still awaiting communication.

IFSJ Comment

The findings from Auckland Council’s study highlight a broader concern.

The evident gaps in fire safety knowledge among building managers and owners in such a major city like Auckland suggest that similar oversights might be prevalent elsewhere.

Routine checks and audits are crucial.

However, this case underscores the importance of continuous education and awareness about fire safety standards and regulations.

The role of governing bodies, industry leaders, and the community at large becomes imperative to ensure the safety of residents in such accommodations.

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