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Up in smoke? Water for fire-fighting and subdivision requirements

Updated: Feb 14

When seeking a resource consent for a subdivision, probably the last thing on your mind is providing for a situation when there is a fire - especially when staring at a bare block of land.

However, under the Auckland Unitary Plan there are rules about providing fire-fighting water supply when subdividing. To obtain resource consent you will need to show how you intend to provide this as part of the development. You may have seen our recent blogs about stormwater tanks and wastewater, and this article continues our theme of discussing engineering issues related to development. This is intended as only preliminary information, and you should always obtain your own site specific advice from a professional.

Fire-fighting water supply in Urban Areas

In urban areas, fire-fighting water supply is generally straight forward; you will probably have access to a public reticulated water supply and can connect to that and use a fire hydrant. Often you will need to do some investigations on capacity, to make sure the network has the capacity and required pressure to service your development. You should do these investigations in the early stages of development planning, as the servicing can have big impacts on design and costs. It can also trigger additional planning infringements, requiring resource consent.

The water supply must be accessible to fire-fighting equipment and specific separation distances are set out in the Standard. It also needs to be easily visible to firefighters, and have specific connection points.

No reticulation in your area?

In the urban environment, water supply is usually accessible from the public reticulated system, but in some places like the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and seaside villages, there isn't a reticulated water supply. In other cases the water supply pressure isn't high enough for fire-fighting (such as Parakai). In most rural areas there is no reticulated water supply, and you will need to investigate an alternative on your specific sites.

What are the alternatives?

Under the Auckland Unitary Plan the subdivision Standards require that where no reticulated water supply is available, sufficient water supply and access to water supplies for firefighting purposes in accordance with the NZ Fire Service Fire Fighting Water Supplies Code of Practice SNZ PAS 4509:2008 must be provided.

To meet the standards, you typically need 45,000 litres of readily available water. However, the largest water tank manufactured is 30,000 litres, so you will need more than one tank and this water supply cannot be used for daily use unless it can be refilled at all times. In most cases this means that you will need extra tanks above usual potable water supply tanks. This is an extra cost, and you also need to think about where you are going to put them. Apart from taking up a lot of space there are also rules in the Auckland Unitary Plan that the tank location may need to meet, otherwise this in itself may require a resource consent.

Water tank manufacturers have worked with the NZ Fire Service to provide kits that attach to the tank that can be connected to the fire service equipment. But be aware these connections are different sizes to those needed by the Rural

Fire Service.

There may also be other alternatives available on your site, and we recommend discussing these with your own specialists and reviewing the Code of Practice.

Further information about firefighting water supply?

Further advice and information about managing fire risk and storage of water for fire fighting, including information about appropriate fittings for connection with fire appliances, can be obtained from the New Zealand Fire Service and the NZ Fire Service Firefighting Water Supplies Code of Practice (SNZ PAS 4509:208). Fire risk can be further reduced through appropriate management of flammable vegetation near structures and ensuring fire appliances can locate and reach the dwelling in the event of a fire.

You may also find this checklist useful

Want more information on subdivision requirements?

At Planning Plus, our staff have extensive experience in subdivision; Hannah and Anne in particular have been providing planning advice for over 17 years, 15 of those included extensive work in rural environments. Our team has detailed knowledge of the unique factors affecting development in both urban and rural areas, working for private clients and processing resource consent applications on behalf of Auckland Council. Get in contact with us- let us make the process easy for you!

Hannah Thomson is Director of Planning Plus and has over 17 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

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