Owner responsibilities

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Owner responsibilities

Building owners in New Zealand are obligated to take a number of fire safety precautions.

For more information, refer to the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006. 

Fire fighting and smoke detection

Some form of fire detection and suppression system should be provided in all commercial premises.

We strongly recommended that first aid fire-fighting equipment, namely fire extinguishers and hose reels, be provided in all commercial premises.

Building occupants should be trained in how to operate this equipment correctly. It's important that all fire detection and suppression equipment is well maintained and clearly identified.

Providing an evacuation procedure

Owners of buildings listed in schedule 1 of the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006 must follow fire safety precautions and have an evacuation procedure in place.

Tenants of the building are required to follow evacuation procedures in a fire emergency. Owners or tenants of certain buildings (described in paragraphs (d), (e), (j), (m), or (n) of Schedule 1) must have employees trained to assist occupants to evacuate.

In addition to meeting part 1 of the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 2006, the owners of some buildings that meet certain conditions must have an evacuation scheme approved by Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Owners of these buildings must maintain their approved evacuation scheme by carrying our regular trial evacuations or implementing a training programme. You can find more information in our guide to evacuation schemes or on the online evacuation scheme website.

Maintaining a means of escape

Building owners must maintain the means of escape from fire for the building. This means:

  • Exits must be kept clear of obstacles at all times.
  • Exit doors must not be locked, barred, or blocked.
  • Smoke-control and fire-stop doors must not be kept open (unless done so in a way that complies with the building code).
  • Stairwells and passageways must not be used for storage or accumulation of waste.

Flammable cleaning liquids and other flammable materials must not be stored near the means of escape from fire for building. They must also be stored in non-combustible containers with close-fitting lids.

Taking care of appliances

Both building owners and building occupants must take responsibility for ensuring any electrical equipment or appliances are in good condition. This includes:

  • Electrical wiring, equipment, and appliances
  • Gas reticulation systems, equipment, and appliances
  • Equipment and appliances fuelled by flammable liquids (e.g. kerosene)

Using open flames

  • Fires must not be lit in a building other than in a compliant fireplace or in a properly maintained appliance.
  • Appliances that give off open flames, or which are fuelled by a flammable liquid or gas, must not be used in a building unless properly constructed, secured and protected.
  • Chimneys must not be used for a smithy, furnace, foundry or similar unless the chimney is compliant and properly constructed for that purpose.

Storing your stock

  • Clear all stock away from escape routes.
  • Keep stock well away from any heat source.
  • Do not stack stock or rubbish so high that it obstructs equipment such as sprinklers or fire detection systems.
  • Locate rubbish bins away from buildings, e.g. at the rear of a car park.
  • Clearly label containers for waste and hazardous substances like flammable liquids, paint rags or oily rags.
  • Ensure all electrical appliances, leads and power sources are fit for purpose and regularly tested.