Warning for people living in light industrial areas and converted buildings

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Warning for people living in light industrial areas and converted buildings

People living in light industrial areas and converted commercial buildings are being urged to make sure they have escape plans following the death of a 56-year-old man in a flat attached to a commercial building in Pukekohe last week.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand National Manager, Fire Risk Management Peter Gallagher says the fatality showed the importance of escape plans and having smoke alarms in all living areas, hallways and bedrooms.

“The second floor flat had an alarm in the hallway connecting the living area to the man’s bedroom, but that was inadequate to give early enough warning for a safe escape.

“it is likely the victim only become aware of the fire when he opened the door to the hallway, at which point the fire was fully-developed and he had no chance of escaping via the internal staircase, the only viable exit from the flat,” Mr Gallagher says.

Mr Gallagher says the tragedy highlights the importance of having multiple working smoke alarms.

“A single alarm is not always enough. The best alarm systems are connected. That way if a fire starts in one part of a building, people in other parts of the building have time to escape. That is particularly important in properties with only one exit.

“Having an escape plan is just as important. Once a fire starts you have less than five minutes to get out before you will be overcome by smoke, heat and fumes.”

The cause of the Pukekohe fire has not been established, but it started in the corner of the living area that housed the victim’s television and entertainment centre and in which the remains of a multi-box were found.