NZPFU pushes for urgency for Napier Fire Station with dire seismic rating

This week NZPFU representatives and a specialist engineer met with FENZ representative’s to push for necessary investigations into the structure and safety of the Napier Fire Station be undertaken with urgency so that the necessary re-build and remediation work can begin.

At least since 2019 FENZ has known that the Napier Station’s seismic rating and life-safety risk is dire.

In 2019 FENZ commissioned a detailed seismic report of the Napier Fire Station that returned a dismal seismic rating of 15% which is a very high life safety risk.  It should have a rating of at least 67%.   That report is damning but other key factors including whether the fire station could be used to respond to the community in the hours after an earthquake, or whether the building is likely to be significantly compromised by the risk of liquefaction is yet to be investigated.

The Hawkes Bay Local resorted to the Official Information Act to access the 2019 Detailed Seismic Assessment Report, an earlier 2013 report and a 2014 geotechnical review. 

The NZPFU then commissioned a specialist engineering consultancy to review the documentation and advise the NZPFU on the implications of FENZ’s reports and the necessary investigations yet to be undertaken.   That specialist engineering consultant assisted the Hawkes B ay Local officials,  the National President and the National Secretary put the case for the necessary investigations to be undertaken and with urgency, at a special meeting held with FENZ representatives in Napier this week.  Key points are:

  • A detailed seismic assessment assesses the building against the New Building Standard (NBS) with the primary focus to determine the life safety issues.  The seismic rating of the Napier Station is 15%, which is 25 times the risk to life safety than a new building on that site.   It is a very high risk to life-safety.    
  • A key factor for that life-safety rating is a high unreinforced concrete block wall but even if that wall was removed the seismic rating would only improve to 35% and a medium risk to life-safety.
  • That report does not measure the likelihood or impact of liquefaction which may also increase the lift safety risk.
  • That report does not measure the serviceability of the building which is critical to the capacity to continue to carry out the primary functions of a fire station after an earthquake.  As a fire station the serviceability of the building must be much higher than other buildings with an expectation it can return to its full operational state within minutes to hours of an earthquake.

The New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering recommends that an emergency response facility should either have a NBS rating of 67% and fully satisfy the serviceability requirements – or be re-designated. 

FENZ has confirmed that the Napier Fire Station has the lowest seismic rating of all career fire stations and that investigative work had begun in 2006.  They state that the seismic upgrade has been scheduled for 2021-2022 and it remained a priority. 

With the assistance of the specialist engineer the NZPFU will continue to correspond with FENZ and its consultants to ensure the necessary investigations are undertaken and with urgency.   This will include the suitability of the site for a re-build.

There is also remedial work scheduled for the Hastings Fire Station, including some work driven by seismic concerns.  Last week Hawkes Bay firefighters were told they would get Hastings or Napier Station upgrades but not both.  FENZ DCE Organisation Strategy and Capability Development Russell Wood assured the NZPFU that such comments had not come from HQ and that was not the case.  He confirmed the refurbishment of the Hastings Station had been pushed out a year to now be undertaken in 2021-2022 but that was unrelated to Napier Station issues.  The NZPFU will continue to investigate who was responsible for providing the false information and the reason for doing so.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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