In December1942, a fire in Seacliff Mental Hospital just north of Dunedin took the l lives of 37 patients who were locked in an unsupervised ward. This fire led to recommendations on automatic fire detection systems and sprinklers in psychiatric hospitals.
In 1947, 41 people died in the Ballantynes Store fire in Christchurch. This lead to a Royal Commission of Inquiry into local authorities’ practices in fire safety by-laws, the effectiveness of fire brigades and future fire protection concepts. The result of which was the 1949 Fire Services Act. This was the first attempt at standardisation of the Fire Service organisation, administration and financing. The Act established the Fire Service Council which represented the Government, insurance companies, local authorities, UFBA and firefighters.
T.A. Varley was appointed from UK as Chief Fire Service Officer (technical advisor to the council).