High rise fire ‘night­mare’

Auckland City Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - STAFF REPORTER

A cen­tral Auck­land high-rise build­ing’s fire hy­drant sys­tem was not work­ing when a fire broke out on Thurs­day, leav­ing fire­fight­ers in a ‘‘night­mare’’ sit­u­a­tion.

As­sis­tant area com­man­der for the Fire Ser­vice Roger Cal­lis­ter said con­struc­tion work­ers ‘‘must have dis­con­nected’’ the 21-storey build­ing’s fire hy­drant sys­tem - pil­lars known as ‘‘ris­ers’’, that trans­port wa­ter through each storey for fire hoses to be plugged into.

‘‘It was a night­mare,’’ he said. ‘‘We had a crew wait­ing up on the roof but no wa­ter to put the fire out.’’

Fire crews had to carry ‘‘enor­mous’’ lengths of hose up 21 flights of stairs to reach the blaze on the roof of the build­ing.

‘‘The ridicu­lous thing is that the whole thing could have been done and dusted in 20 min­utes if the ris­ers had been op­er­a­tional.’’

As it was, the fire burned it­self out be­fore crews could get wa­ter to it. It had ig­nited due to a work­man us­ing a gas torch on the rooftop wa­ter cooler.

Brett Rus­sell from Do­min­ion Con­struc­tors, who were con­vert­ing the build­ing into a ho­tel, said he thought around 100 con­struc­tion work­ers would have been on site at the time. Ev­ery­one was evac­u­ated.

Auck­land Coun­cil had shut the ren­o­va­tions down un­til it com­plied with the build­ing code’s fire reg­u­la­tions.

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