Health and Safety

Taking care with materials, equipment and work procedures and dealing with hazards.

Fire safety

Smoke and toxic fumes not the flames from house fires generally cause fatalities. Fires from upholstery foam, bedding materials and plastics will smoulder and produce toxic gases but few flames, while fires from burning wood or cooking oil will produce hot, fierce flames.

The design process of a new house or alteration work must include fire safety consideration there is a house fire in New Zealand on average every 34 hours. Smoke alarms are compulsory in all new construction, and a law passed in May 2016 requires all rental properties to be fitted with smoke alarms. Alarms must have a battery life of at least 8 years or be hard-wired. Other options may include:

Heaters and other appliances

All appliances that burn gas, oil, solid fuel or any other combustible material must be installed to ensure that:

  • the combustion process does not raise the temperature of any adjacent building element to a level where its performance is affected
  • the accumulation of combustion gases within the building is avoided (see passive ventilation and mechanical ventilation).

Reporting a fire risk

If you want to report a potential fire risk:

  • with an electrical or gas product, call Energy Safety (part of WorkSafe New Zealand) on 0508 377 463, or record your comments online here.
  • with a non-electrical or non-gas product, contact Trading Standards (part of MBIE) on 0508 627 774
  • related to your local area, contact your local council.


Updated: 21 August 2018.