The Building Act 2004 has four main goals:
- People can use buildings safely and without endangering their health
- Buildings have attributes that contribute appropriately to the health, physical independence and wellbeing of the people who use them
- People who use a building can escape from the building if it is on fire
- Buildings are designed, constructed and able to be used in ways that promote sustainable development.
The Building Act 2004 places a requirement upon Building Consent Authorities (BCAs) to send a copy of certain applications for building consent to the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) for comment. NZFS has set up a Design Review Unit (DRU) to carry out this work. The two relevant sections of the Building Act which detail the Frie Service's responsibilities are 46 and 47. These are reproduced here in full.
46. Copy of certain applications for building consent must be provided to New Zealand Fire Service Commission
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
(a) provisions for means of escape from fire:
(b) the needs of persons who are authorised by law to enter the building to undertake fire-fighting.
(2) 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.
(3) 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.
Persons Deemed Competent
Part two subpart six of the Building Act 2004 (the Act) deals with dangerous buildings. As a part of the statutory regime territorial authorities can request advice from members of the New Zealand Fire Service who are notified to territorial authorities by the National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service. These persons were known as “Persons Deemed Competent” under the Building Act 1991.