Fire fighting water supplies not a RMA item


(Geoff Merryweather) #1

For those who haven’t been involved in anything in the area, Kaipara District Council inflicted the Fire Service code of practice on those building in Kaipara by adopting it as part of the District Plan – even though there is no town mains water supply. The following information from one of th epoeple involved.

I am told a large consulting company was advising the KDC and was also used by the Fire Service to pressure local authorities into adopting the code of practice – a slight conflict of interest. The KDC adopted the code without even understanding what it meant. The costs of it were put onto the building owner so not like KDC provided town reservoirs, rathe reach building owner doing work had to provide the fire fighting water supply independent of their neighbours and nor could they

PAS4509 code of practice is not mandatory, and as far as I am aware the only reference to fire fighting water supplies in law is in the Local Government Act, which states that if you are putting in town mains they need to have hydrants.

The Fire Service extended the code to include non-reticulated areas, like most of Kaipara. Although the code is by law voluntary, the Fire Service took it upon itself to enforce a set of rules on local authorities by using the Resource Management Act as a Trojan horse. Under that Act local authorities have an obligation to mitigate “natural hazards”. The Fire Service argued that structural fires are natural hazards and local authorities are obliged to adopt the code of practice to comply with their obligations under the legislation.

The KDC fully endorsed the Fire Service’s strategy and set up the Fire Service as an unlawful de facto consent authority under the RMA.

The proliferation of totally unnecessary concrete tanks around Mangawhai is a testament to this stupidity.

After years of dithering the KDC succumbed to public pressure and instigated Plan Change 4 to mitigate the amount of water dedicated to firefighting. Fortunately, a small group opposed the proposed change. At a hearing before commissioners last year it not only opposed Plan Change 4 but proposed that reference to the code of practice be completely removed from the District Plan.

The hearing commissioners decided that the code of practice was not reasonable in the circumstance and that reference to it should be removed from the District Plan.

FENZ, appealed the decision to the Environment Court. The Court ordered mediation and over 90 concerned residents became “interested parties” to the litigation. A mediation conference was held between KDC staff and lawyers, FENZ representatives (senior officers, their consultants and lawyers), and the interested parties representatives.

There followed several meetings between the KDC staff and interested parties’ representatives to sort out a compromise settlement with FENZ. If settlement could not be reached, then the matter would proceed to a full hearing in the Environment Court.

Effectively, as a result of the mediation, the references to the code of practice in the rules of the District Plan have been removed. There is no requirement for dedicated water for firefighting. A basic amount of domestic water can now be used for firefighting purposes as well. FENZ no longer has the power to interfere in the consent process and there should be no necessity for additional consent fees to be paid in respect of firefighting requirements.

The compromise agreement is not perfect. FENZ, as a bottom line, insisted that there had to be references to the code in various Notes. These are advisory only and the KDC assured the Mangawhai residents that they would be treated as advisory and they would not be used by the KDC as an opening to interfere and impose its own conditions.

The compromise agreement was endorsed by the Environment Court on 24 October 2018 and the Court ordered that the KDC District Plan be amended in accordance with the agreement.

The order and the amendments can be seen here.


(Alan Moule) #2

that’s interesting…what effect does that have on FFFC?. My guess is that it is now defunct and can not be asked for (as it is not part of the building).


(Kenneth Crawford) #3

It’s unfortunate that the Council essentially added NZS 4509 to punish their community without realising.

My opinion is that Council’s should coordinate with FENZ to provide public infrastructure to support fire fighting operations. Rather than using neo-liberal ideals expecting that the market is perfect and will solve all problems. When the market cannot provide water supplies where they are really needed, and would be highly wasteful of resources.

I thought that with the new organisation that there was a focus on providing effective rural fire fighting.


(Graham John Wyatt) #4

Pretty sure NZS 4404 Land development and subdivision infrastructure, requires water for fire fighting to be installed in accordance with SNZ PAS 4509

(i have an older copy of 4404 but cant put my hand on it just now). Does anyone have more current info on 4404?


(Kenneth Crawford) #5

I found a copy of the scope of NZS 4404:2010 with the referenced standards. NZS 4509 is not in the referenced standards in the latest version.


(Alan Moule) #6

Hi Graham - that is obviously an RMA/Planning issue and not building related.