The Fire Service Commission has now undertaken four technical audits of the NZFS Design Review Unit (DRU).
The first set of two audits where undertaken in 2006 and the second set in 2009. To allow the results to be compared the same approach was adopted for both sets.
The audits were commissioned with the principal aim of providing assurances to the Commission and the Minister that the DRU is discharging its duties in a technically competent manner. In the context that the quality of the advice may depend on the quality of the applications, the auditors were also asked to provide comment on the quality of and methodology employed in the fire engineering reports received by the DRU.
The technical advice on building designs provided to BCA's by the New Zealand Fire Service Design Review Unit (DRU) has been audited twice since 2005 when it was set up, in each case by two different independent fire engineering experts. The auditors have commented on the quality of the technical advice and also on the quality of the designs received.
In 2006 the two audits found that the selection of appropriate fire engineering methods in designs received by the DRU was unacceptable in 90% and 92% of cases respectively.
In 2009 the two audits the figures had improved, but two different auditors still found the engineering methods to be unacceptable in 70% and 46% of cases respectively.
In addition to the technical audit, a process audit was also conducted in 2009. This was in response to concerns raised by a group of fire engineering professionals regarding the process adopted by the NZFS. The outcome of this audit is also included here.
2006 Technical audit
The 2006 audits were undertaken by two highly respected fire engineering organisations, namely Warrington Fire Research, Melbourne and the Centre for Environmental Safety and Risk Engineering at Victoria University, Melbourne. The auditors were selected for their experience, independence and professional standing in the field of fire engineering.
The auditors each reviewed 5% of the building consent applications received at that time. Apart from being requested to choose a range of projects and designers, the auditors made their own selection of applications.
2009 Technical audit
The 2009 audits where conducted by QStar Solutions Ltd and by Aurecon.
The same audit methodology was employed as in the 2006 audits to allow comparison of the results and conclusions.
2009 Process audit
The commission engaged the services of Michael Mills of Martin Jenkins & Associates, a Wellington based consulting firm involved in providing strategic advice to a number of government agencies.