Fire Safety

New Zealand Fire ServiceHow safe is your home? Fire safety is all about taking precautions.

Helpful hints regarding fire safety

  1. Don't leave the house while cooking.
  2. When cooking in oil, keep the pot lid handy.
  3. Snuff out an oil fire with a pot lid or oven tray.   Don't try to carry it outside.
  4. If oil is smoking, turn off the heat.
  5. Alcohol and cooking don't mix!
  6. When home always leave the key in deadlocks.
  7. Don't smoke in bed.
  8. Keep matches, lighters and candles out of the reach of children.
  9. Teach children to take matches or lighters to an adult straight away.
  10. Use a solid ashtray to stub out butts.

Smoke Alarms

It is now a legal requirment for rental properties to have smoke alarms. All new or replacement smoke alarms must be long-life photoelectric smoke alarms with a battery life of at least eight years that meet the required product standards, or a hard-wired smoke alarm system.Both landlords and tenants now have responsibilities to keep smoke alarms working. Never damage, remove or disconnect a smoke alarm – that includes removing the batteries.

Long-life photoelectric smoke alarms must meet the product standards required by the regulations, which are:

AS 3786:1993 (Australia) or,

An equivalent such as:

UL217 (USA)
ULCS531 (Canada)
BS5446: Part 1 (United Kingdom)
BS EN 14604 (United Kingdom)
ISO12239 (International).
The standard should be displayed prominently on the packaging and on the alarm. If in doubt, ask the hardware retailer. 

A landlord who fails to comply with smoke alarm obligations is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000, while a tenant who fails to comply with their responsibilities may be liable for a penalty of up to $3,000.

There must be at least one working smoke alarm:

in each bedroom or within three metres of each bedroom’s door – this applies to any room a person might reasonably sleep in and on each storey or level, even if no-one sleeps there. Also in any rental caravan, sleep-out or similar.

In a boarding house, there must be at least one working smoke alarm:

in each boarding room or within three metres of each boarding room’s door and
on each storey or level even if there is no boarding room there.
(These placement regulations apply to both individual smoke alarms and the sensors in hard-wired smoke alarm systems.)

These are the minimum legal requirements – the New Zealand Fire Service recommends installing a smoke alarm in every bedroom, living area, and hallway.

Smoke alarms work best when mounted on the ceiling or high on a wall.   Install them at least 300mm from any corner or wall.

Test smoke alarms each month by pushing the test button with a broom handle to ensure it beeps.   If applicable change batteries at least once a year and clean regularly to remove dust and cobwebs.

More information on smoke alarms can be found at

Plan to Get Out Alive

Your escape plan should include:

  • a sketch of your home showing two ways of exiting each room,
  • in addition to the smoke alarms, other ways of alerting people (such as whistles etc),
  • the means to help others less able or mobile to escape safely,
  • somewhere to meet safely outside (such as the letterbox),
  • how to call the fire service on III from a safe telephone.

Tell the fire service the house number, street, nearest intersection, suburb and city. If you have one, give your rural ID number.

Practise the drill regularly. In a fire remember to:

  • crawl low in smoke,
  • close doors behind you,
  • use the stairs - not the lift,
  • care for others less mobile,
  • get out and stay out.

If fighting a very small fire always ensure you have a clear escape route. Never let the fire come between you and safety.

Open Fire Safety

  • Sweep chimneys and flues regularly.
  • Use a fireguard on open fires.
  • Always use firelighters not petrol to start fires.
  • Let ashes cool before taking them outside.   Store ashes in a metal container that is situated well away from the house.

Heater Safety

  • Keep heaters at least one metre away from furniture and curtains.
  • Never put clothes on the heater to dry.
  • Guards should be fitted on all heaters.
  • Strike the match before turning the gas supply on when lighting a gas heater.
  • Kerosene and gas heaters should be turned off and left to cool before refilling.
  • Situate portable gas or kerosene heaters in a draught free position.

Electrical Safety

  • Check cords and plugs for cracks, breaks, fraying and any exposed wiring.   Test for overheating.
  • Don't overload power points — use a multi box.
  • Use extension cords as a temporary measure.   Never run them under carpets or rugs.
  • Fuses and circuit breakers are safety devices.   Always use the right size fuse.
  • Always turn off the electric blanket before getting into bed.

Contact Details

Tenants Protection Association (ChCh) Inc
Te Tōpū Tiaki-ā-Kainoho
Room 3, 301 Tuam Street, Christchurch 8011
Ph.(03) 379-2297

info [at] tpa [dot] org [dot] nz (subject: Enquiry%20from%20Website)