Fire report release Sept 23

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The Fire Service investigation report into the fatal April 5, Icepak coolstore fire at Tamahere will be publicly released next Tuesday, September 23 in Hamilton.

The report, prepared by a team of investigators from New Zealand and Australia, was considered by the Fire Service Commission at a meeting yesterday where it was decided to release it publicly.

Fire Service national commander Mike Hall called for the report and said in the terms of reference the inquiry group would produce a comprehensive report focusing in three areas: the cause of the explosion and fire, the general preparedness of the Fire Service to manage such an incident, and its response and management of it.

He added that “it is expressly not the purpose of this inquiry to attribute fault, blame or liability.”

In a detailed forensic examination of the explosion and fire the report was required to look into:

The location, design and use of the facility
The provision of water for firefighting
The construction materials including the insulation panels
The passive and active safety features of the facility
Building consent and warrant of fitness compliance history
The origin of the explosive atmosphere within the building
The ignition event
The fire development
The contribution of the coolstore contents to the explosion and fire
Best practice on coolstore design and construction to (a) minimise the risk of fire
and (b) provide a safe environment in which to a fight a fire.

The report was originally due to go to the commission around the end of July but Hall granted the inquiry team an extra 30 days.

The inquiry team, which was named on April 14, was made up of investigation leader Dr Paula Beever (PhD, Director of Fire Risk Management, NZ Fire Service), Paul McGill (Director of Operations and Training, NZ Fire Service), Steven Warner (President, New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union), Paul Henderson (former Chief Fire Officer of the Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, UK and current Senior Fire Officer, NZ Fire Service), and experienced fire investigator, Bob Alexander, from the New South Wales Fire Brigades.

The Labour Department is also investigating the Icepak fire, and Hamilton coroner Gordon Matenga will hold an inquiry into the death of fireman Derek Lovell.

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