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Building Act 2004 
Building Act 2004 

As it relates to the New Zealand Fire Service, the Building Act 2004 has four main goals:

  1. People can use buildings safely and without endangering their health.
  2. Buildings have attributes that contribute appropriately to the health, physical independence and wellbeing of the people who use them.
  3. People who use a building can escape from the building if it is on fire.
  4. Buildings are designed, constructed and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.

Fire Service involvement in Building Act

The Building Act 2004 requires Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) to send certain building consent applications to the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) for comment. The engineering unit of the NZFS  undertake the review of these consents and provide a memorandum back to the BCA.


Brookers Law comments on these changes to the Building Act:

"Section 46 is a welcome improvement, which it is hoped will prevent situations that arose under BA91 where the Fire Service was unaware of building consents for the construction or alteration of buildings. When it did become aware of them, some time after construction commenced, applied for determinations under s 17 BA91 in respect of fire safety provisions. That was the case for Means of escape from fire in the conversion of an office building to an apartment building (Building Industry Authority (BIA) Determination 1993/4, 5 November 1993, upheld on appeal in Auckland City Council v New Zealand Fire Service [1996] 1 NZLR 330); Fire safety provisions in an atrium apartment building (BIA Determination 2003/3, 27 February 2003) and Fire safety provisions in a medical centre building (BIA Determination 2004/5, 31 March 2004)"


Sections 46 and 47 of the Building Act 2004 detail the Fire Service's responsibilities. These are reproduced below in full.


46.  Copy of certain applications for building consent must be provided to New Zealand Fire Service Commission

  1. This section applies to an application for a building consent that is of a kind specified by the chief executive by notice published in the Gazette.
  2. A copy of the notice must be given by the chief executive to every building consent authority as soon as practicable after it is so published.
  3. A building consent authority must, on receipt of an application to which this section applies, provide a copy of the application to the New Zealand Fire Service Commission.

47.  New Zealand Fire Service Commission may give advice on applications under section 46

  1. The New Zealand Fire Service Commission may, within 10 working days after receiving a copy of an application for a building consent under section 46, provide the building consent authority concerned with a memorandum that sets out advice on the following matters in respect of the building to which the application relates:
  2.  provisions for means of escape from fire:
  3.  the needs of persons who are authorised by law to enter the building to undertake fire-fighting.
  4. The New Zealand Fire Service Commission must not, in the memorandum referred to in subsection (1), set out advice that provides for the building to meet performance criteria that exceed the requirements of the building code.
  5. If the New Zealand Fire Service Commission does not provide a memorandum within the period specified in subsection (1), the building consent authority may proceed to determine the application without the memorandum.