RUAPEHU MOUNTAIN CLUBS ASSOCIATION (INC.)
Address: 33 Newbury Street,
Phone 06 358 3513
Fax 06 359 0300
Secretary Treasurer: John Rockell
To Member Clubs Sewerage Project Costs In February, 1997 clubs with lodges on Ruapehu which are included in the sewerage scheme were billed by DoC for a “Part share in 1996-97 costs to service Ruapehu District Council’s Whakapapa/Iwikau Sewage Project Loan Account”. The bill was commonly for about $400 although the actual amount varied. No explanation accompanied the bill and undoubtedly some club secretaries or treasurers would have wondered what it was for . Some clubs wrote to DoC and some wrote to me querying the bill. I wrote to all RMCA member clubs suggesting caution in paying without first being satisfied with the reason and the amount. I also wrote to DoC. DoC responded by sending a letter to clubs. In essence it said that DoC was acting solely as a collection agency for Ruapehu District Council for funds to pay for the current years cost of the servicing loan for the capital expenditure of the project, i.e.$500,000 with an expected $250,000 in commitments. At Council’s April meeting Brian Anderson, one of RMCA’s representatives on the RDC Major Project Committee spoke on the subject. He said that at the time of the massive eruptions from Ruapehu RDC had been prepared to continue with work but had been told bluntly that clubs and RAL etc. had no cash flow and would not be able to pay. Physical construction had been put on hold until there had been a year of volcanic quiescence but some design work and Resource Management Act requirements have been carried on. By now capital expenditure is about $500,000 and committed expenditure is somewhere about $250,000. With no capital funding available from clubs, RAL, Skotel, etc. the Council used loan funding and the cost of servicing it is presumably the $46,000 which is currently being billed by DoC and allocated on the Royds PE assessment of water use. RMCA Council view was that DoC should be pressed to obtain and make available more detailed information to support the total levy and its sharing amongst the potential beneficiaries. But DoC staff have said again that they have only acted for Ruapehu District Council to collect the charges. So I have written to RDC to suggest that clubs be given better information to justify the charges, such as: What is the total capital expenditure on the project for which loan servicing has been necessary? • What is the breakdown of this expenditure into different significant categories? • What is the interest rate for the loan servicing? • Is the total amount sought for loan servicing for the current financial year $46,000? • What is the basis for apportioning this amount to all the potential users? I assume it is on a population equivalent (P.E.) basis. But is this from the original set produced by Royds, or an updated basis? • If the basis has been updated what is the detail now? If it has not been updated what allowance should be made for the last season when eruptions drastically reduced club occupancy? No doubt many clubs will have satisfied themselves by now that the bill is not unreasonable and will have paid, although some would have expected the charge to come as an addition to their rate demand. If Ruapehu District Council produce a good explanation you will be kept informed. Lodge Inspections Background The Building Act 1991 introduced requirements to ensure that buildings are safe and sanitary and have means of escape from fires. Similar to a motor vehicle owner who needs a warrant of fitness every 6 months or so in order to promote safety on the roads, a building owner is required to observe the requirements of compliance schedules and obtain an annual warrant of fitness for all buildings from the local territorial authority. A compliance schedule is required for all buildings, except single residential dwellings, that have any of the following safety systems:
1. a means of escape from fire, e.g. emergency fire warning systems, emergency lighting systems; 2. safety barriers 3. Means of access and facilities for disabled persons 4. hand held hose reels for fire fighting 5. signs as required by the Building Act The local territorial authority, Ruapehu District Council for almost all lodges on Ruapehu, has issued compliance schedules for all of the lodges and huts. Ruapehu District Council’s compliance schedules for club lodges require clubs to inspect and report on safety systems every month. The Inspections for May and November each year must be carried out by Independent Qualified Persons (IQPs.). Clubs or their representatives may carry out inspections for the other 10 months of each year. Independent Qualified Persons (IQPs.) An IQP is a person accepted and approved by the territorial authority as appropriately qualified to undertake inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures in relation to the compliance schedules and who has no financial interest in the building. Lodge owners (clubs generally) must issue a Warrant of Fitness each year for each building showing that the safety systems specified in the compliance schedule have been properly and regularly inspected and maintained. Failure in any of these respects is a serious offence and renders the building owner liable to prosecution and at risk from damage and injury claims. The Compliance Schedule, Monthly Inspection reports and Annual Warrant of Fitness must all be publicly displayed in the building to which they refer.. Six monthly IQP inspections When Ruapehu District Council introduced clubs to the new responsibilities they had under the Building Act clubs were told the monthly inspections must all be carried out by IQPs. RMCA negotiated and the council agreed that monthly inspections could be done by responsible club members except for two, 6 months apart, in May and November, at the beginning and end of the ski season. RMCA considered that if most or all clubs banded together it should be possible to find a company prepared to carry out the 6 monthly IQP inspections for those clubs at a much lower cost than clubs would be able to obtain acting individually. At short notice, RMCA organised Link Fire Services to carry out 6 monthly IQP inspections for participating clubs at a much lower cost than could otherwise be obtained. However, only a minority of clubs responded to the invitation to join the group and have used Link. Unless a substantial majority of clubs are prepared to join the scheme it would not be worth while seeking lower costs by calling for quotes or tenders to do the inspections. Yet it is certain that if 40 or more clubs joined the costs would be further and substantially reduced. There is a significant cost in organising such a scheme but unless a good majority of clubs are using it RMCA is not justified in using member clubs funds to do the organising. With this in mind RMCA has not tried to change the existing situation and has assumed Link Fire Services will continue to be used for the 1997 inspections Monthly inspections Although IQPs must carry out the 6 monthly inspections in May and November, clubs themselves can carry out inspections and record them for the other 10 months of each year. Most clubs have responsible members who can do these inspections during the winter ski season, though often it can be a considerable inconvenience. It is an offence to default on these inspections and Ruapehu District Council can take action against offenders. Several people have suggested that someone(s) should be contracted to carry out these inspections, again with the idea that with enough clubs participating the cost would be reasonable and less than the cost of sending someone, specially in the summer, and it would do away with the likelihood that some clubs might inadvertently miss some inspections. The Pinnacle Ski Club has taken the initiative and invited clubs to join with it. Currently, 14 clubs with 19 buildings, pay Pinnacle monthly to have their lodges inspected each month until July, (but excluding May when the 6 monthly check must be done) by Link Fire Services Ltd. There is a small charge for administering the scheme but the club is certainly not making money from it. It is only doing the job because it is seen as worthwhile and neither RMCA nor anyone else has been prepared to do it. Pinnacle are deliberately using Link Fire Services. Again, it is likely that if most ,if not all, clubs joined the cost could be substantially reduced. Why have only a few clubs joined either the 6 monthly scheme proposed by RMCA or the monthly scheme proposed by Pinnacle? Possible reasons are: • apathy. A large number of clubs do not respond to letters without being prodded • ignorance. I suspect that some clubs (perhaps with committee changes) still do not understand what is required of them and are reluctant to spend time finding out. • Committed elsewhere. A few clubs may still have committed themselves to using other inspection services. Some clubs may have a member who is an IQP, etc. • Fear of unknown cost. This is a catch 22 situation. It is difficult to expect a firm quote for 30 or 40 or 50 uncommitted lodges with different ranges of safety systems and different problems of access, but some clubs will not commit themselves without knowing the exact cost. What next? Yes, clubs had a bad winter season due to the eruptions last year and revenue is down. Even without the eruptions, some clubs are finding lodge occupancy down. But like it or not building inspections are here to stay and clubs have to pay for them. Your Council discussed this subject at its April meeting. It commended the initiative taken by Pinnacle and its administrator, Owen Cobb. Owen had deliberately used an IQP for the Pinnacle scheme so that there would be no doubt that the inspections had been carried out properly and competently. It is virtually certain that many of the clubs which have decided to carry out monthly inspections themselves will have missed some inspections. The Building Act 1991 provides no excuse for defaulting. Defaulting clubs risk prosecution, at the least. Some Councillors were sure that the cost of having inspections done by qualified professionals is more than offset by the advantages. Council has also recognised that if an IQP is carrying out the monthly checks then the more expensive check (including a full check of fire extinguishers) would only need to be carried out annually rather than 6 monthly, with a consequent saving in costs. Currently, the cost of a full annual IQP inspection would be only that of 2 months’ ordinary inspections. With this in mind, Pinnacle, through Owen, has been asked to obtain quotes for a 12 month service beginning in August for 19+ buildings, including 11 monthly inspections and the annual review of fire extinguishers. Clubs are commended to join in this scheme. If you have a query about it check it out with the Secretary Treasurer, John Rockell, or better still with Owen Cobb of Pinnacle. Contact him at: P O Box 28 342, Remuera, Auckland 5 or phone and fax 09 630 6046. Is your Warrant of Fitness due? Remember, you MUST provide a to the local authority every year. It is due on the anniversary of the date on which a Compliance Schedule and Statement Of Fitness was first issued. For many clubs that will be about now. If your club has not produced the warrant for the last year then TAKE ACTION NOW. If you have missed one or more of the monthly checks the Warrant of Fitness must not state that the requirements contained in the Compliance Schedule have been fully complied with during the previous 12 months (and you should justify the missing inspections to the local authority). If you join the scheme being developed by Pinnacle end of year problems are likely to disappear. Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Just as the Building Act 1991 put the obligation on building owners to accept the responsibility for maintaining certain safety systems and to produce an annual warrant of fitness, so the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations, 1992 puts upon owners the responsibility to ensure provision is made for the safe, expeditious and efficient evacuation from buildings in the event of a fire. Member clubs are fortunate that during the past 4 or 5 years when they have had hut licences, annual rentals, the Sewerage scheme, IQP and monthly inspections and warrants of fitness to contend with they have not been faced also with the need to produce evacuation schemes. But now the time has come. The regional Fire Hazard Risk Manager for NZ Fire Service has written to a number of clubs recently and will be writing to the rest of our member clubs very shortly. All our member clubs have buildings which provide • facilities for more than 10 people and • accommodation for more than 5 people on an overnight, short-term or long-term basis. All those buildings are required under section 21A(1) of the Fire Service Act 1975 to have an evacuation scheme and Regulation 14 of the Fire Safety and Evacuation of Buildings Regulations 1992 specifies what an evacuation scheme must achieve. It is not sufficient for you to produce an evacuation scheme and think that will do. Your scheme must be approved. Therefore you must apply for approval of your scheme . The Fire Service has application forms which you must use. Fortunately, it also has guides to help you fill in these forms. With your application must be included a copy of all relevant notices and Wardens’ instructions and a sample of the building Assistance Register for Disabled persons. (This may all sound complicated but one club which has gone through the exercise, Manawatu Tramping & Skiing Club has found it was not really very complex at all.) I believe that club lodges and huts on Ruapehu will all have fire alarm warning systems and most if not all will also have emergency lighting systems. If not, you should be aware that a warning system to alert people of the need to evacuate and help for them to find their way out at night are vital parts of an acceptable scheme. You may well have lots of questions and it is not the place of a newsletter to answer them. Fire Service help is available to you from Mark von Huben Community Risk Officer NZ Fire Service Wanganui and Ruapehu Districts P O Box 334 Wanganui Phone 06 348 0104 or 025 498 184 or fax 06 345 0913 and also from H W R (Herb) Carberry Fire Hazard & Risk Manager NZ Fire Service P O Box 148 Palmerston North Phone 06 356 5222 or 025 484 129 Finally, although there it is compulsory for you to ensure your huts and lodges have approved evacuation schemes, Fire Service does wish to be as helpful as possible. RMCA will co-operate with the Service because the whole thrust of the regulations and the evacuation scheme is to provide for the safety of life. To help clubs in a very direct manner Fire Service staff are going to Ruapehu for Queen’s Birthday Weekend. They will be available at Saturday 7June 10.00am onwards Sunday 8 June 9.00am onwards Monday 9 June 9.00am until 2.00pm. Refuse Management DoC organised the annual Community Service Contributors Meeting for 7 March and invited all clubs to send representatives to take part. Disappointingly only 5 clubs were represented. Bill Chrystall was there to represent RMCA. One of the subjects dealt with was Refuse Management. DoC’s old rubbish collection truck is at the end of its life. Ruapehu District Council have refused to take responsibility for what they look upon as a commercial operation. In fact the Council now charge a fee of $10/m3 for rubbish dumped at its Taumarunui landfill, i.e. $35,000 for the current year as against nil previously. DoC recommended purchase of a second hand compactor truck but there was argument for leasing which would not require capital funding. Currently, DoC propose to tender rubbish collection and if tenders are not acceptable are likely to lease a second hand truck. The current year’s refuse collection budget is $105,000 compared with $67,000 previously and will be apportioned on the basis of rubbish collected with separate bins for clubs and RAL. It is very much in clubs’ interest to compact their rubbish before taking it to the collection bins.
Eruption Detection System This subject was also aired at the Community Service Contributors Meeting attended by Bill Chrystall for RMCA. Several clubs have voiced disquiet with aspects of EDS so perhaps it is not surprising that RMCA President Ross Campbell has been invited to join the Eruption Detection System (EDS) Working Group as RMCA representative. He attended a meeting on 4 April and reported. A difficulty with the current system (which does not warn of a lahar in the Far West area is that ash scored solar panels used to recharge batteries at the Dome Shelter site are inefficient. Snow groomers will be used to transport generators during the winter at RAL’s cost. The present system will be kept for 1997 but will be replaced for 1998. It has been made clear to DoC that clubs do not like the proposed cost apportionment of a $150,000 new system (20% of total payable by Iwikau clubs). The Institute of Nuclear and Geological Sciences (IGNS) has been doing world breaking work on frequency differences between `normal’ seismological and eruption earth movements, coupled with measuring shock waves with acoustical microphones. IGNS are developing a proposal for a digitised, computerised New Zealand -wide system, including Ruapehu, in which information and analyses would be made available to users such as Transrail, Civil Defence, Electrical suppliers, Transit Roading, DoC, etc. DoC would be expected , on Ruapehu to compliment such a system with a fast response and warning system. RMCA Councillors have agreed that as a matter of policy, RMCA accepts clubs should pay their fair and logical share for the use of an eruption detection system, and Ross Campbell will discuss further the basis of this charge with DoC. Annual General Meeting The likely date for the RMCA AGM is Saturday, 18 October which is after the school holidays and secondary school ski racing competitions on the weekend before Labour Weekend. As usual it is hoped that this meeting can be held in conjunction with a meeting with RAL and DoC staff. Last year’s meeting was well attended and finished with an enjoyable dinner at the Happy Valley Bistro. The informal discussions at the dinner gave valuable opportunities for members and staff to interact and understand mountain problems from different viewpoints. Take early action to ensure your club is represented this year with members who can speak authoritatively for your club. Kind regards John Rockell Secretary Treasurer.