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Fire safety risk to Masonic building residents

14 Dec 2017

Fire safety risk to Masonic building residents

The safety of residents living in the Masonic building on Lowe Street is a key concern for Council and Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) after an investigation into fire risk of the building was completed by FENZ.

FENZ has reported that there's an immediate concern for safety of life on the upper levels used for accommodation if a fire was to break out, due to the building’s design and fire safety features.

There were no measures able to put in place quickly that will reduce the immediate risk to occupants of the building, and in that respect, FENZ established that the building is dangerous from a fire risk perspective.

Council acted on the advice of FENZ as soon as the risk was confirmed and issued a Dangerous Building Notice in line with the Buildings Act 2004. 

The notice requires the building owner resolve the issues up to fire safety standards or vacate the areas used for sleeping within the next 10 days.

Council's director for environment and protection, Nick Zaman, says Council’s foremost concern is addressing the immediate risk for the safety of the residents.

“The severity of the danger requires action to be taken straight away.”   

“The repairs that need to be made are extensive and we understand the timeframe to resolve them is unlikely to be met by the owner.”

Mayor Meng Foon has expressed his concern about the timing of issues coming to light and the circumstance this puts the residents in so close to Christmas.

“Minimising any strain on tenants is our current focus and it’s our priority to find alternative accommodation for tenants before Christmas. 

“We’ve committed staff who are currently working with social services and the building manager to ensure tenants will be housed and supported.”

Mr Zaman says in the interim, Council have arranged with the building manager to put in place precautions for fire wardens and monitoring the building for the safety of residents.

Businesses occupying the street level are not affected by the notice and are considered low risk because the fire systems in place for these businesses and the way they're used, meets the standards.