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Fire Service warns against silencing fire alarms

Fire Service warns against silencing fire alarms

The New Zealand Fire Service is concerned there may be more buildings in Auckland where smoke alarms have been silenced by occupants, building managers, or building owners.

NZFS Auckland Area Commander Kerry Gregory said it was almost unbelievable Sunday morning's fire in a central city apartment building did not kill several people.

"Without an early warning system, people in a high rise building, have very little time to escape. Smoke can kill within a few minutes and fire travels incredibly quickly."

Mr Gregory said over the past few years Fire Service staff had become more aware of buildings where smoke alarms had been deliberately switched off, rather than repaired or replaced because they were too sensitive or being frequently triggered.

"Switching off a fire alarm is completely unacceptable and puts the lives of everyone in the building at risk. This is particularly dangerous in a building where people live and who could be sleeping when a fire breaks out"

He said the Commerce Street fire should serve as a warning to all those people who know of buildings where the alarms have been deliberately silenced by unauthorised people. "If you know an alarm has been silenced, the building owner should be notified immediately. You can also notify the Fire Service and we will take the matter further. This could include notifying the city council which has a range of legal powers under the Building Act regarding buildings that are considered dangerous."

"As more apartments are built and more people live in buildings with an alarm system, there is the potential for systems that are not working effectively to be silenced, rather that pay the false alarm charges or repair the system. People who live in these buildings and those who have responsibility for the alarms, need to heed the lesson from this weekend's fire," he said.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway.


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