Changes to C/VM2 Scope

All have found that has been amended is the scope change in C/VM2 1.2. The scope limitation is obviously incorrect and if that’s all MBIE have managed to achieve in 3 years then this is a demonstration of gross incompetence. The fact that they said they would consult and then abandoned the consultation and implemented unconsulted changes the same as with the 2012 approved documents and their amendments. This is an intentional backstab against the fire engineering community.

The dependence on FENZ is completely inappropriate. I received advice, from the then DRU, at the end of last year which Wellington City Council tried to enforce. What FENZ were trying to do was retain a sprinkler system without modification when rack storage was being added. This advice would have resulted in the fire sprinkler system not complying with NZS4541 and placing the building occupants at risk. The advice provided was inappropriate and was not implemented. I do not believe that an organisation providing incorrect, misleading and defamatory advice to the BCA should be approving anything relating to fire engineering design. FENZ do not have the capability to perform that role.

In comparable safety industries commercial designers do not get excluded from the regulatory process.

I have had a chance to contemplate the change to C/VM2.

In the Building Act only Sections 46 and 47 refer to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and their role for providing advice. There is nothing about them controlling the entire building consent process. The amendment to C/VM2 is designed as a back door amendment to the Building Act. These changes have been implemented in such a way as to avoid debating the real changes in Parliament. So only the former Ministers would be aware of this change.

What is also of interest is not just the dramatic change from the publicly released (and highly flawed FO design scenario) but the shortening of the timescale. Reducing the 5-6 month phase in appears to be intended to avoid scrutiny by the incoming Government. The changes do appear to be politically motivated which is improper for MBIE to be taking action that is likely to undermine the new Government. That is potentially sedition.

The obvious consequences of no phase in places a large number of large projects at risk. This may result in projects being terminated and if you pay attention to the financiers in a PCG you may note how nervous any potential hold up makes them. This risks the termination of finance for large projects. We could be facing a significant downsizing and job losses in the construction sector because of MBIE and FENZ.

No one with any competent understanding of the construction industry or fire engineering could have been involved in this change. This is clearly driven by a bureaucrat who’s primary ability is to continuously drool on themselves.

Given how seriously damaging this will be this short timescale forces me into the position to seek legal advice to determine what action I can take to prevent large scale job losses. Trying to contact the Minister of Building and Construction so far has been a waste of time.

What does this mean in the VM:

"contain fire hazards that are not defined by part 2 of this Verification Method…Part 2 does not define anything does it?

Also there is the dangerous comment below that

  1. Additional fire safety precautions to those determined by this Verification method may be necessary to facilitate the approval of the evacuation procedures to meet the Fire and Evacuation of Building Regulations:

UMM _ Fire fighting water supplies springs to mind…

So what - that is a separate legislative mandate and NOT The Building Act.

The definitions are more incorrect as well…

And the FEB is there too - this has been confirmed as NOT PART OF THE ACT - MBIE get over yourselves and simply work inside the legislation you are charged to administer, stop taking advice from profiteers and lobby groups who have alternative motives.

MBIE you have really have done yourselves and the industry a massive dis service…Tony is right!

C/VM2 Amendment 5 is still not up on the MBIE website. They have given up on the policy established after leaky building syndrome and the approved documents are no longer available to the public.

I have contacted the private secretary of the Minister of Building and Construction. If C/VM2 Amendment 5 is not suspended by Monday morning I will instruct my lawyer to take action so that an injunction can be put in place to block it. I am being generous in giving the Minister more time to react that what I had to be aware of this amendment being introduced.

It’s concerning that MBIE are trying to damage the construction sector and risk triggering job losses. They do not appear to value employment, innovation or New Zealand businesses.

Thank you Gillian that will make it easier to submit as evidence.

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Indeed Kenneth. It is the law under the Building Act S25A that the compliance documents are on the MBIE website:

25A Acceptable solutions and verification methods to be available on Ministry’s Internet site
The chief executive must ensure that—
promptly after a new acceptable solution or verification method is issued, a digital copy is publicly available on the Ministry’s Internet site:
even after an acceptable solution or a verification method has been amended or revoked, a digital copy of it in its original form continues to be publicly available on the Ministry’s Internet site:
promptly after an acceptable solution or a verification method is amended, there are publicly available on the Ministry’s Internet site—
(i) a digital copy of the amendment; and
(ii) a digital copy of the acceptable solution or verification method in its up-to-date form.
Section 25A: replaced, on 28 November 2013, by section 11 of the Building Amendment Act 2013 (2013 No 100).

These changes rushed through don’t actually fix the problems or certainly not all of them, many of whcin have been convenient loopholes for some time. Things like retirement villages or hotels that have apartments with no fire separations between them or the escape routes, no fire doors, no fire stopping no closers etc (as there is no property separation). I can name 4 in various stages which are all done by the larger companies. Better hope granny really can get moving in 300s and move at 1.2 m/s through thick smoke.just in case you have to defend it in the coroners court at some stage because there is no margin, and FED(CO)=0.3 = 30% incapacitation rate in the average population. Of course if it passes the VM, it is of course legally safe…

MBIE’s email today states:

Consultation on the revised scope for C/VM2 took place from May to July 2017 as part of a package of proposed changes to the documents that provide a means of compliance with the Protection from Fire Building Code clauses.

Is this true?

I can confirm that those in the hospital wing at a rest home that require a hoist to be lifted out of bed can rival Usane Bolt in a sprint, which is what would be needed to survive a fire in that scenario.

Just available from MBIE:
BC Update 225: Revised scope for C/VM2 Framework for Fire Safety Design

There was a public release of C/VM2 for comment. It included numerous changes to design scenarios. In particular they included changes for the Fire Fighting Operation Design Scenario that would have included pressurisation of a stairwell, lift lobby and lift shaft. In my feedback to MBIE I pointed out the flaws in that system that would endanger the lives of the building occupants and fire fighters operating in a building using that design scenario.

In fact the proposed FO change reference that EN standard that was used in the Grenfell Tower corridor pressurisation design (which apparently failed to function at all according to witnesses). I did discuss this in the Grenfell Tower thread.

It appears that the proposed changes for public comment have been removed in their entirety and MBIE has used a ‘bait and switch’ tactic. The version of C/VM2 Amendment 5 that has come into force does not resemble the one that I commented on. MBIE’s statement in that email is a lie.

Having read BCU 225 it would appear that small hospitals with one out all out evacuation, care homes, shopping malls of any size, and tall buildings are all back into VM design. Contrary to the VM (ver 5) document link in the same BCU.

The only exclusions now seem to focus on staged/sequential/phased/delayed evacuation and “not reasonably defined” fires.

What would be really helpful would be a comment from MBIE on this thread - they do have members who can access it.

Hi John

Comment 3 reads:

_3. Examples of buildings outside of the scope include _
_hospitals, care homes, stadia, principal transport _
_terminals, large shopping malls (greater than _
_10,000 m2 and contain mezzanine floors), tall _
_buildings (greater than 60 metres or 20 storeys in _
height) or tunnels.

That was the list in the document published last week but the release from MBIE this morning changes that.

Thanks John…I’m saying nothing! :slight_smile:

There are proposed changes to address alternative solutions that could work in conjunction with Comment 4. Why weren’t those changes implemented at the same time as the change in C/VM2? Those changes would have reduced the uncertainty created and would have given designers and the BCAs a clear path forward. Looking at this from that perspective this could have actually made sense instead of creating chaos.

Either way the lack of a delay prior to implementation is irresponsible and demonstrates a lack of comprehension. The requirements coming into force today and then the email with the link to the documentation arriving after 9am demonstrates how disorganised and incompetent MBIE are. This should have been formally issued prior to this change and all designers should have been allowed sufficient time to understand the impact of these changes. I have also been informed of changes to glazing (not fire safety related) that were implemented on short notice which has caused financial losses to a number of contractors. MBIE appear to be doing whatever they want and they do not care what harm they are causing. I find MBIE’s dishonesty offensive.

Hi All,

I want to up date you with what SFPE has been doing with regards to this issue. It has been a fast paced situation with tight time frames so I have relied on feedback from our executive committee and area representatives to put our collectives thoughts to MBIE rather than garnering feedback from everyone. (However I have read all the posts).

On the 16th Nov we received notice of the impending changes from MBIE. I spoke to MBIE and was advised to put our concerns in writing. Engineering NZ were supportive and forwarded our concerns along with their commentary to MBIE. The main concerns I put forward were timing and the impact on existing projects in the pipeline and the difference between considering additional scenarios within the VM2 framework which was in the consultation document compared to an Alternative Solution. (some people have asked for a copy of this letter to be posted on the forum. It is not suitable to be posted on a public forum however if you are a member of SFPE then you can request a copy from the

Engineering NZ then met with MBIE on our behalf. MBIE acknowledged that they performed poorly in their introduction of the changes but were unlikely to make significant changes to what had been published or delay its introduction. I also spoke to Dave McGuigan from MBIE who reiterated the same message.

However last Thursday Dave McGuigan again contacted me with a revised wording largely centered around lessening the emphasis on hazardous substances so it was good that they had taken on board some of our advice. MBIE have also written to councils with advice on how to approach the changes in light of many Fire Engineers concerns about existing projects. He also advised that the long term goal is to bring many of the buildings that are now out of scope back into the VM2 framework with tall buildings being the first.

Overall not the best short term result for Fire Engineers and their clients but for the long term we are back at the negotiating table with the new team at MBIE.

Engineering NZ have run an article on the issue and our joint involvement.

MBIE have provided advice to Councils which can be obtained by emailing the and requesting a copy. MBIE have also issued a building control update which can be read here:

Some of the media coverage which SFPE have taken part in is:

So MBIE still haven’t fixed the situation. The sloppily worded section in VM2 didn’t seem to be referencing hazardous substances and certainly wasn’t intelligible.

So it seems that I still need to form an action group to apply for an injunction. I would like to hear from anyone who wants to participate including their clients. MBIE hand waving and saying they have provided Councils with enough information is not good enough. It only takes one project being held up with red tape to impact the economy and construction industry jobs.

Any safety issues with the Verification Method are entirely MBIE’s fault.

come on Jeff - jump in…

I have two concerns with the ‘changes’. Now that it appears that a lot more designs are from eminently qualified fire engineers are to be vetted by FENZ engineers then perhaps they could publish their qualifications to reassure us that we are being peer reviewed by peers?

The second issue is the BCU 225 issued on 24 Nov that stated that “The revised scope means C/VM2 applies to all buildings except those that:
require configuration of the evacuation procedures {I think they meant schemes{ in order to meet the fire provisions of the Building Code (such as tall buildings where evacuation is delayed or sequenced), or
require managed evacuation schemes (such as international airport terminals or buildings containing patient care facilities at hospitals), or
the nature of the fire that could occur in the building is not reasonably defined {??} within the given rules and parameters”

For a start this doesn’t appear to include care homes or large shopping malls (with or without mezzanine floors) as listed in the scope Comments issued on the same day. It would appear these buildings at least are back in? Especially buildings with one out all out evacuation schemes.

Given that the comments are only that and as we all know are not part of the Compliance Document, does the Building Control Update actually update the published C/VM2 or is it just another MBIE mistake?