Fire Research and Investigation Unit

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire Research and Investigation Unit

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act, section 11, states a main function of Fire and Emergency New Zealand is to promote fire safety.

The national Fire Research and Investigation Unit (FRIU) is crucial in helping us to meet this obligation by providing a wide range of investigative and research services.

The FRIU takes their learning from research and investigations into fires and publicises it to the wider community, in order to raise awareness of existing and emerging fire trends and to recommend improvements to fire safety practices. They're constantly looking for new ways to reduce the frequency of fire and the risk to life from fire.

You can email Fire.Investigation@fireandemergency.nz if you have any feedback or wish to contact the unit.

The role of the FRIU

The Fire Research and Investigation Unit (FRIU) has six key roles.

Identifying and reducing common causes of fire

The FRIU regularly reviews data submitted by frontline firefighters and investigations completed by Specialist Fire Investigators. They look at unusual fires, common causes of fire such as equipment failure, and contributing human behaviours.

When they spot a trend or detect an item of concern, the FRIU works with government regulators, retailers, importers and other industry representatives to address the issue. This may result in products being improved or recalled, or public warnings being issued using the media and other sources.

Post fire examination of building design and fire systems

While learning about how a fire started is crucial to reducing further fires, it’s also important to examine how a building and its fire protection systems performed and how its occupants behaved during a fire. These investigations are referred to as Post Incident Analysis investigations. They are completed by our Fire Engineers.

Key learning taken from these various investigations are compiled and published in our "Heads Up" reports. These are circulated to targeted audiences and published on our web site.

Supporting best practice fire investigation

The FRIU also promotes excellence in fire investigations and technically reviews every Specialist Fire Investigation report and Post Incident Analysis report, focussing on factual integrity and consistency.

Fire incident reports submitted by front line firefighters are reviewed to provide quality assurance of the data and to promote a high standard of reporting nationally. The FRIU regularly publishes internal training material and provides specialist trainers both for internal fire investigation courses and for other government agencies.

Liaison with community and community agencies

As part of our mission to reduce the impact of fire on communities, the FRIU regularly meets with government departments and non-government organisations to share learnings about the causes of fire. They also discuss matters relating to arson, and coordinate actions to reduce further fires.

The FRIU promotes voluntary and compulsory recalls that are published by partner organisations like Consumer Affairs and Energy Safety. They also maintain close communication and share information with fire investigation units in Australia. 

Fire testing 

One of the FRIU's most important roles is to carry out testing to replicate suspected causes of fire. This helps to determine the level of fire risk of various products or materials and authenticate fire cause determinations where required. 

Tests are carried out safely in a test facility using quality instrumentation and processes to measure and document test results. These results are shared with the community to reduce further risk of fire. 

Support of significant investigations 

The FRIU is also equipped to respond to significant fires anywhere in the country. They may support local Fire and Emergency New Zealand Specialist Fire Investigators if there has been a large or complex fire.

These types of fires often have many different investigators, representing multiple government agencies and insurance companies. FRIU staff manage the coordination of the investigation process and provide technical support as required.

Report a fire risk

If you have had a fire that Fire and Emergency New Zealand did not attend, or wish to report a product that you believe is a fire risk, please tell the following agencies: