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New Code of Practice to Reduce Quake Risk

2 November 2014

For immediate release

NEW CODE OF PRACTICE WILL REDUCE RISK OF CEILING COLLAPSES DURING QUAKES

A new Code of Practice for the seismic design and installation of ceilings and in-ceiling services will reduce the risk of air conditioning, sprinkler systems, and suspended ceiling tiles from swinging and colliding during earthquakes and collapsing onto the heads of office workers.

During the Christchurch and Wellington earthquakes unrestrained and haphazardly planned and designed ceiling infrastructure smashed itself to pieces and sprinkler pipes burst. The BNZ’s Harbour Quays office block has only just been fully occupied again, 15 months after the 6.5 magnitude Wellington quake. The BNZ estimate repairs at $10 million.

The flailing ceiling infrastructure can cause substantial structural weakening and was responsible for a number of Christchurch buildings being demolished, that otherwise might have been saved.

Suspended ceilings hide plumbing and fire sprinkler pipes, air conditioning units and ducts, electric and computer cabling systems and in older systems they are constructed from heavy fibrous plaster panels.

There was no life lost or injury from falling infrastructure or heavy fibrous plaster ceiling tiles in either the Christchurch or Wellington quakes, but the potential risk remains high.

The executive officer for the Association of Walls and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), Mr John Parkin said the industry recognised the problem and has proactively worked with the major install and supply companies and BRANZ to establish a Code of Practice.

“There is a need for greater awareness from design and coordination through to final sign-off. If you are a designer, engineer, project manager, ceiling supplier, building contractor, installer, insurer, building owner or compliance official this is very important for your work,” Mr Parkin said.

Presentations on the draft code start in Hamilton this Wednesday (10am Waikato Stadium), Auckland (13 November, Alexandra Park), Wellington (19 November, Mac’s Function Centre) and Christchurch (20 November, Riccarton Park). The AWCI is looking for comment and submissions on the draft Code of Practice before the end of November.

ENDS

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