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Relief As MBIE Determines Water Tank Is Not A Fire Risk

‘Victory for common sense’ after 18-month process: water tank not a fire risk to neighbouring properties

A determination just released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has clarified that a water tank proposed for a section in a Housing New Zealand development in Auckland’s Henderson is not a fire risk to neighbouring properties.

The determination, which had been applied for by Consentium, New Zealand’s only nationally accredited non-Territorial Authority Building Consent Authority, related to a new two-storey detached dwelling as part of a larger development. Specifically, it concerned whether an above-ground stormwater tank proposed near the boundary of the property (referred to as ‘a building’ under the Act) complied with clauses C3.6 and C3.7 of Clause C3 of the Building Act, Fire affecting areas beyond the fire source.

The determination follows an extensive 18-month process of discussions, consultation, independent fire reviews, and deliberation that began in July 2022. It found that ‘it is very unlikely a fire could occur “in” the tank, and said ‘it is difficult to see how a fire could start inside the tank, given that the plastic tank would contain water and air’. ‘Therefore, clause C3.6 is not applicable to the tank, and it is not necessary to consider the received radiation at the relevant boundary and 1m beyond.’

The determination also found that ‘The tank, being a stormwater tank, is primarily intended to hold and store water (and air), which does not require protection against the outdoor environment. Therefore, the tank does not have ‘external walls’ as that term is defined. Consequently, clause 3.7 is not applicable.’

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The plastic tank that was the subject of the determination holds 5000 litres of water, is 2950mm long, 880mm wide, and 2170mm high. The distance from the stormwater tank to the boundary with the neighbouring property is 150mm.

“Finally, a victory for common sense,” says Andrew Olsen, co-founder of Watersmart, a company that supplies similar water tanks to the NZ development and construction sectors. They include the slimline and award-winning FenceTank™ , a water tank that seamlessly blends into a property’s perimeter.

“I’d like to thank Consentium for applying for the determination, as a commonsense position has been reached. We have stated throughout this lengthy process that these tanks are designed to hold water or air. It is a relief to finally see that MBIE agrees, as I was worried that the red tape had gone mad. Every building company, developer and tank manufacturer should be thrilled with this decision, as the bureaucracy has determined that plastic water tanks are not a fire hazard.”

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