Owner responsibilities

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Owner responsibilities

Building owners in New Zealand must take a number of fire safety precautions.

For detailed information, refer to the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fire Safety, Evacuation Procedures, and Evacuation Schemes) Regulations 2018. 

Firefighting and smoke detection

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

We strongly recommend that first aid firefighting equipment, namely fire extinguishers and/or hose reels, be provided in commercial premises. In some cases we may require, in writing, building owners or occupiers to install fire extinguishers, under section 15 of the Regulations.

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 that are workplaces or allow public access must have a procedure to ensure people can be evacuated in case of a fire or alarm of a fire, and have signs that meet requirements under section 7(5) of the Regulations to tell people what to do in the event of fire.

All building occupants are required to follow evacuation procedures in a fire emergency. 

Owners or tenants of certain buildings must have employees trained to assist occupants to evacuate, as outlined in section 9 of the Regulations – including childcare centres and kindergartens, day-care centres and facilities, courthouses, police stations, accommodation premises, educational institutes, and relevant buildings.

In addition to meeting part 1 of the Regulations, the owners of some buildings that meet certain conditions must have an evacuation scheme approved by Fire and Emergency.  You can find a comprehensive list of conditions on the Online Services website to determine if you must develop an evacuation scheme and submit it for approval.

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 – there can be a management system in place where doors need to be locked due to people being under care or supervision.
  • 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 be compliant, properly constructed for that purpose and maintained.

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.

Act within the law

There are offences and penalties for not complying with requirements under the Regulations. 

Adhering to these regulations is in the interests of the safety of everyone who uses your building.