Thursday, May 23, 2024

Landmark review announced on anniversary of hostel blaze

A year on from the tragedy at Loafers Lodge, the Government says it is working hard to improve building fire safety.

Building and Construction Minister, Chris Penk said that in response to the tragedy, he had prioritised a full review of fire safety provision in the Building Code – the first review of its kind in more than a decade.

“I want to share my sincere condolences with the families and friends of the victims on the anniversary of the tragic fire at Loafers Lodge, in which five people lost their lives and 20 others were injured. Nothing makes up for their loss and a year on it is still keenly felt,” Mr Penk said.

“In addition to the review, the Government has already completed an investigation into fire safety systems at some boarding houses across the country. Many of the issues identified in this investigation have already been resolved. Updated fire safety systems for new-build properties were also published in November 2023.”

Minister Penk said the public could be assured that the Government was acting decisively on building safety.

“Changes in building uses, building materials, construction methods, and fire hazards have evolved since 2012. The review will identify modern solutions and ensure that the Building Code is fit for purpose and up to date,” he said.

“The review will consider the lessons learned from Loafers Lodge and other fire events in New Zealand and overseas, such as the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London where 72 people tragically lost their lives. 

“It will also look at the detailed performance requirements of the Building Code provisions for fire safety for all types of buildings. 

“Following this robust review, I will advance discussions on fire safety provisions and determine next steps.”

In the past year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has published updates to fire safety systems in new buildings. This includes requiring interconnected smoke alarms as a minimum throughout a residential home and bringing the requirements for fire safety systems in line with the latest industry standards.

Following the fatal Loafers Lodge fire in Wellington on 16 May 2023, a decision was made to proactively inspect boarding house type properties that met a similar profile to Loafers Lodge, to identify and address any immediate fire safety concerns. These inspections were carried out between MBIE officials, territorial authorities and Fire and Emergency NZ (Operation Magazine).

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