FENZ Act Water Supplies

Hi All
The FENZ Act 2017 includes the following clauses:

72 Minister may approve code of practice for firefighting water supplies

(1) The Minister may approve a code of practice for firefighting water supplies
that FENZ recommends to the Minister under section 73.
(2) Before approving a code of practice for firefighting water supplies, the Minister
must be reasonably satisfied that FENZ has complied with its obligation
under section 73(2).
73 Duty to develop, consult on, recommend the approval of, and publish and
notify code of practice for firefighting water supplies
(1) For the purposes of section 72, FENZ must develop, consult on, recommend
the approval of, and publish an approved code of practice for firefighting water
supplies (code of practice) in accordance with this section.
(2) FENZ must develop a code of practice in consultation with—
(a) local advisory committees; and
(b) any local authority, association of local authorities, or any other appropriate
authorities or organisations.
(3) After developing a code of practice in accordance with subsection (2), FENZ
must submit the code of practice to the Minister for approval.
(4) FENZ must—
(a) publish the approved code of practice on an Internet site maintained by,
or on behalf of, FENZ; and
(b) notify the approved code of practice by notice in the Gazette.
(5) FENZ must review the approved code of practice at intervals of no more than 3
(6) An approved code of practice that is reviewed under subsection (5) must—
(a) be consulted on in accordance with subsection (2); and(b) be submitted to the Minister in accordance with subsection (3); and
© be published and notified in accordance with subsection (4).
(7) A code of practice is a disallowable instrument for the purposes of the Legislation
Act 2012 and must, following approval by the Minister under section 72,
be presented to the House of Representatives under section 41 of that Act.

Powers and duties in relation to firefighting water supply

74 Powers in relation to checks as to adequacy of firefighting water supplies
FENZ may check, and require checks to be made as to, the adequacy of firefighting
water supplies, including tests of water volume and pressure, as FENZ
considers necessary or desirable, in order to check compliance with a code of
practice for firefighting water supplies—
(a) in any water main; or
(b) in any area.

Essentially, the Act gives FENZ carte blanche to ask for any water supply that they see fit, so long as FENZ can demonstrate that they have reasonably consulted with the relevant parties. Considering PAS 4509 as the basis for the water supply requirements, this could present a huge impost upon our clients in regard to capital outlay, lost ground area, on going maintenance etc, all for zero impact upon insurance premiums.
I strongly suggest that the NZ Chapter of SFPE needs to be consulted in this regard, as there does not appear to be any other champion for our clients actually considered as needing to be consulted by the legislation.
Happy to assist the exec if required. Note that the DIA is the responsible party, as the FENZ Act is being bedded down by them.
Peter - your turn.

There are already problems with the existing standard. It requires 100 mm couplings when a number of rural fire appliances have 75 mm couplings.

I believe it won’t just be our clients that are affected but also the Councils. They may end up railroaded into providing water supplies at great expense simple because they will be consulted but may have no understanding of the implications.

This seems to be a power grab for the Orwellian named Fire Engineering New Zealand.

Cliff Barnett produced some papers on fire fighting water supplies in NZ. I’m sure I have copies of them somewhere and they may be buried in the SFPE NZ website somewhere.

The FEDG has a chapter by Cliff on this, and his suite of programmes also included water supplies (I think).

Is there any substantive difference between the FENZ Act and the old Fire Service Act in this regard Paul.

NZS/PAS4509 was written under the auspices of the Fire Service Act to replace their previous self authored Code of Practice. They used Standards New Zealand to provide typical Standards rigour to the preparation/consultation process.

The SFPE rep on the committee was Cliff Barnett.


I haven’t checked it out yet but I believe there is a substantial difference between the the water flow requirements of PAS/NZS 4509 and the calculated methods. I also understand that nobody could determine the basis of the PAS/NZS 4509 water flows.

The 1975 Act had a requirement for the NZFS to check water supply capabilities, to notify local authorities as to the capacity of the water supplies, and produce a code of practice for fire fighting water supplies. The 1975 Act included NO ability for the NZFS to demand any water supplies.
The 2017 Act gives FENZ the power to demand any water supply that they see fit. My vision is that in an industrial subdivision, that every site has 2000m3 of stored water, which uses about 500m2 of land area, all for zero impact upon the insurance premiums or fire loss. FENZ (quite correctly) undertake a risk analysis for every event that they attend, and in the case of industrial sites with rack storage, their inevitable policy is not to enter - presuming that search and rescue is not required.

In response to Rob’s comment, I think that Paula Beaver did most of the work on PAS 4509.

Interesting Paul.

Hence, we are guilty of not reviewing the FENZ Bill and letting our politicians know of the ramifications of what was eventually enacted?

Dare I say, when I get grief about what we have stuffed up in the sprinkler standard, my retort is “why did you not publically comment.”

WRT to NZS/PAS4509,Paula , from memory, Chaired the Committee, but I think Simon Davis did the background work.

Certainly, having seen many fire test videos of unsprinklered high rack storage, not entering the building would be sound advice.

I think you may understand wrong.

It was discussed at Committee with Cliff and Simon contributing…

With the risk of sound like a broken record…this is not required by the Building Act, so why are we that bothered…?

I have done some work (successfully) with Council’s helping them remove FFWS from the district plan (the cost is massive and the benefits negligible (as there is no expectation of saving a house). In all of the cases the NZFS had no defence to 4509, and it is only a COP anyway so not a mandated requirement.

Appreciate that there needs to be some logic (which I found hard to follow in 4509). The calcs are based on a property burning like an open bonfire. The Building Act provides protection to the boundary as 100% unrated at 1m, so build 1m away and the radiation from the building (house in this case) is deemed to be sufficiently low not to damage the neighbour.

This is also predicated on the stance that you can burn your own property down as long as you don’t kill anyone - which is covered in the Building Act.

I wonder if FENZ have any reports or data on the possibility of saving a domestic dwelling in rural areas? It would be interesting to see at what point in a fire they effectively write the structure off and are just washing down the slab? Thinking about it, if a room reached flashover in 40 seconds and the walls are not fire rated, lets say 3 minutes before it breaches the compartment wall assuming that the door is closed, then the house would be severely compromised in a matter of minutes (we have all seen the videos and tests). Probably takes a few minutes to realise a fire, call in the incident, page the responders, they get dressed and rive to the station, wait for a compliment of staff to arrive, drive to the location, set up, deal with the fire…ummmmmm - so what is the driver for the water provision?

I am not sure it is building related…

Hi Alan
The relevance isn’t to the Building Act, the relevance is in regard to avoiding wasting $m’s on storing water that will be of no use in regard to fire fighting. For some reason, DIA think that having stored water available for fire fighting means that the fire can be fought. In fact, if the FENZ risk assessment says don’t enter the building, then no amount of stored water is going to prevent a total loss.
The Building Act recognises that the owner of a building has the right to determine what level of risk the building can be subject to, accepting that occupants, neighbours and responding emergency services need to be considered. The FENZ Act ignores this, and allows FENZ to determine any level of water source that they choose, to a standard that has yet to be considered. Note that the FENZ Act does not include any grandfather clauses in this regard, thus the requirement (presumably) will be applicable to all existing and new buildings.
The prime reason for raising this subject is so that the SFPE exec can recognise that the NZ Chapter of SFPE needs to have a voice in the consultation process, which will need some impetus from the exec for us to be even allowed to be heard. I am mindful of the normal process of consultation - determine the result, undertake the consultation, and then produce the original result document - which has been consulted upon. There is no way that the DIA or FENZ can ever be able to determine what level of loss each individual building owner can suffer, or what underwriting needs to be supplied.

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Please see statement below, posted on behalf of Rob Saunders, National Risk Reduction Manager for Fire and Emergency NZ.

I trust this addresses the key points discussed in previous posts.

I have read with interest the comments relating to PAS/NZS4509 that have been generated on the SFPE discussion forum.

I am keen to clarify the following:
• Any new Code of Practice for firefighting water supplies that is developed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand is likely to look very different to the current Code. It will not be the current Code of Practice rebranded.
• The consultation we will carry out in writing a new code will be genuine, and I believe the intention is to involve stakeholders in the industry. I see SFPE as being a key stakeholder and trust we can all engage openly and productively around the development of a new code.
• Fire and Emergency are aiming to make decisions that are credible and therefore intelligence based and that are ultimately in the best interests of our communities. This will mean that as well as considering our operational requirements, things like land usage and cost (capital and ongoing) of compliance by the end user will all have to be considered.
• The new legislation has a number of interdependencies. One that is related to this Code of Practice is that Local Advisory Committees are specifically named as a group we have to consult with. We are still in the process of working through how these will be established, this requires work piloting and consulting on their structure and the need for regulations to be developed to support their formal establishment. Unfortunately due to interdependencies like this we cannot start work on the firefighting water supplies code of practice until those committees are in place and functioning.

In summary I want to confirm that your concerns have been heard and are acknowledged. I can ensure you there is a clear intention to work with you in developing a new code at an appropriate time in the future. We will look forward to considering any research you have and discussing the challenges we all face around this issue in due course.


I was at a meeting with FENZ and MBIE regarding the proposed FENZ Regulations and discussed the COP with a national FENZ officer at the time. They agreed the calculations were not all correct and they would be remedied during the process outlined in s73. I take that, in conjunction with Rob Saunders statement, to show good intent. There is potential in the COP, which will need to be addressed, just like the VM where any gaps can be exploited resulting in the other large thread currently running!

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It appears that the subject of FFWS now has two separate Topic headings in the forum?

In any event this was my previous initial comment:

I do agree that some aspects of SNZ/PAS 4509 around FW7 are quite onerous, however the current “do nothing” attitude when it comes to NZBC compliance, and “FFW should have been covered in the Resource Consent” is not helpful and potentially has implications for us as designers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
Section 39 has responsibilities for us as designers which include having to design for “any reasonably foreseeable activity” (such as …maintenance or repair)…
I would hazard a guess that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a court would consider a fire-fighting operation might be considered to fall under “maintenance or repair” and that fires are a reasonably foreseeable event. For example if you are designing a cool-store it is reasonably foreseeable that it could be involved in a large/major fire given the history of cool-store fires in NZ, so, even though the NZBC might not make any specific requirements for the provision of FFW to the site it is likely that we do have a responsibility to ensure that adequate FFW is provided.
Currently that measure is SNZ/PAS 4509.

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It would appear that SNZ/PAS 4509 has a lot of input from a UoC Masters thesis.
Available from:
University of Canterbury Library Repository


Thanks for your response. The important thing is for the end user of the water supply cop to find it is beneficial. To determine this, the cop needs a range of inputs, not just in regard to the volume of water required, but also in regards to the wider picture of FENZ capability in the area, the risk being addressed, and the level of risk assumed by the client. The problem that will be faced is ensuring that there is a positive return on the investment for the client.

The reason for introducing this topic was to ensure that SFPE NZ Chapter has a voice in the production of the cop, not to get into the detail. The FENZ Act does not appear to consider that the person actually paying for compliance, which the Act now makes compulsory, has any input. As part of the risk analysis supplied as part of our fire safety design, we need to be able to advise our clients as to options available.
As we live in a performance based environment, it is logical to apply the same rationale to he proposed cop. This will not make the preparation of the cop any easier.

interesting that Peter brings up the H and S Act. As a CPEng does that mean that we are responsible for all "reasonably foreseeable events…like bad passive fire protection installation etc under that legislation (esp. when we are asked to sign off the PS4…) I am not overly convinced about :“history of cool store fires” either. Which ones are you referring to Peter?

it is simply a COP under a separate Act…not the building Act.

people need to read the thread on the HOFFE earlier this year…the same principle and many comments could easily apply from the posters to that thread as to this one…cost benefit and where it sits in relation to the Building Act is a clear one…