Non-compliant multi-fuel fires caused blazes
Builders failing to install multifuel fireplaces to New Zealand safety standards are responsible for a spate of house fires around the Wakatipu basin, the fire service says.
Fire Investigator for Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Central North Otago, Stu Ide is warning homeowners who have multi-fuel fireplaces with enclosures to check they are compliant, following a fire in Queenstown early Sunday morning.
At 3.30am a family on holiday in Queenstown was alerted to the fire at the Quail Rise holiday home after a baby in the bedroom started coughing from the smoke.
The fire had started behind the fireplace, in the enclosure where the flue was running up through the ceiling, he said.
‘‘In the last 12 months around the Wakatipu we have had three of these. It is due to an installation deficiency. People are not installing fireplaces to the New Zealand standard.’’
Fireplaces were required to be installed to a standard that allowed for a minimum of 25 x 25 x 25mm clearances to be away from the flue, he said.
‘‘When using this method there must be an air flow from between the second shield and between the first shield and flue. This air flow must vent to the outside and normally allows the hot air to vent above the chase - the decorative surround of the metal flue - and below the cowling. What we are currently seeing is the timber being against or very close to the first shield. Eventually a fire in the chimney cavity will occur. The times can vary before this happens.’’
Homeowners who have multifuel fireplaces with enclosures should get in touch with the person who installed their fireplace to ask if they built it to New Zea-
‘‘It is only a small step from getting away with it to it being a fatality.’’
land standard, and contact their insurance company, he said.
‘‘They need to have a look. These people got away with it but it is only a small step from getting away with it to it being a fatality.
‘‘I don’t want to alarm people but the scary thing about these fires is that when it gets into the roof you don’t know you have a fire above your head. It isn’t like when you have a fire in the house. It is in another space. It is in a void above you and you have got a fire racing away, likely to come careering down through the ceiling and that is the first you would know about it.’’
The Jack’s Point Clubhouse fire started in a chimney.
A fire broke out in a chimney enclosure after it was not installed properly.