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DOC Pauses Fire Alarms Rollout After Concerns Raised By FMC

The Department of Conservation has announced that plans to roll out heat detectors to all backcountry huts with six or more bunks have been paused pending further work on legislative requirements, practicalities, costs and user safety.

FMC has been working closely with the Department on the matter and believes that under the Building Act 2004, the exemption for fire alarms in backcountry huts is still legally valid. FMC sees the proposed rollout as unnecessary and costly. It would have a negligible impact on safety and a negative impact on the "basic and wild" experience of those using the huts.

FMC was also concerned the Department had not consulted with affected stakeholders, including clubs and non-profit organisations that own huts and lodges on public conservation land.

“DOC has informed us over the weekend that they are putting a pause on the rollout while they do further work to ensure detectors are only installed in huts where they are legally required or will have a meaningful impact on hut user's safety. FMC expects to be part of this work.” FMC President Megan Dimozantos said. "We commend the Department on their decision to pause the heat detector and smoke alarms rollout. It's heartening to see DOC taking feedback from FMC on board and we look forward to working alongside the Department to ensure the longer-term plan has a commonsense approach and is in line with the relevant legislation."

The Department of Conservation manages approximately one-third of the land area of Aotearoa New Zealand which is home to a network of 13,000 kilometres of tracks and over 950 huts.

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“The Department is expecting budget cuts under the newly formed government and FMC is committed to supporting DOC to continue protecting the things that matter most to our community. We would much rather see this money spent on maintaining the existing backcountry huts and tracks network and protecting our unique biodiversity. We sincerely appreciate DOC taking our concerns on this matter seriously.”

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