Newsletter 20

RUAPEHU MOUNTAIN CLUBS ASSOCIATION (INC.)
Address: 6 Harvest Court,
PARAPARAUMU
Secretary Treasurer: John Rockell
Phone 04 902 4415
Fax 04 902 4413
E-mail: rockell@paradise.net.nz
29 March 2000

To Member Clubs Newsletter 20 Evacuation Schemes and Smoke Detectors What a debacle! Fire Service told club members at the AGM last October that lodges must have smoke detectors hard wired to automatic fire alarm systems. If they did not, then approval of their evacuation schemes would be refused. If a lodge did not have an approved evacuation scheme then, it was implied, the lodge would be closed down. Club members could see the upgrading of their smoke detector-fire alarm systems would increase the safety of occupants and asked RMCA to investigate bulk purchase of smoke detectors to reduce their cost. It did not take long to discover that simple replacement of heat detectors with smoke detectors was not likely to be an option for many lodges. Smoke detector installation and placement has to conform to New Zealand standards. RMCA President then tried over a considerable time to get specific details of the Fire Service requirements but the best they could do was an unsigned, handwritten fax which was clearly inadequate. Aware that time was running on quickly and Fire Service had spoken of the upgrading having to be completed by 30 June 2000 a letter was sent to clubs inviting them to agree to inspection by one or more fire protection companies to assess what was needed to meet Fire Service requirements and to get an idea of the number of smoke detectors which would be needed. Clearly, the more that were bulk purchased, the bigger the savings could be. Clubs were slow in answering and many have still not replied. Too few have gone far enough in their replies to make bulk purchase worthwhile. Some clubs had done some investigation of their own, and while recognising that upgrading would improve occupant safety believed that Fire Service did not have the authority to enforce its requirements. Meanwhile, while we were trying to get information from Fire Service, it was apparently trying to get Ruapehu District Council to work with them to put pressure on clubs to upgrade. The possibility was apparently that club lodges which did not have an evacuation scheme approved by Fire Service could be held by the district council to be unsafe and closed down. By now, clubs will have received a letter from Ruapehu District Council which supports any initiatives by Fire Service to increase occupant safety. However, the council has declined any responsibility for ensuring Fire Service requirements are carried out. Indeed, it has gone further and said that if clubs do go ahead with plans to upgrade they must first a Building Consent.
RMCA Council is angry that Fire Service acted so precipitately. It outlined upgrading it required and said it must be completed by 30 June 2000 even though it must have known the cost would be considerable and certainly knew that most clubs were financially strapped following several poor ski seasons. All this and yet it is unclear, at the least, that Fire Service has the authority to require the upgrading it says must be done. Now we are back to square one, except that Fire Service has lost a great deal of goodwill. A very few clubs have gone ahead or are actively planning to go ahead with upgrading their smoke detectors. RMCA applauds these clubs for even if Fire Service cannot compel it there is no doubt that the “required” smoke detector/alarm system will increase considerably occupant safety. For the present, it is clear that few clubs will go ahead with the upgrade before the busy season and bulk purchase of smoke detectors is not an option. RMCA will continue to press Fire Service for its detailed requirements and for evidence that it has legal authority to make those requirements. Sewerage Scheme In the last newsletter I said DoC’s proposal then was for treatment within an enlarged Whakapapa plant with effluent discharge below ground at the Golf course. I also reported as late news that investigative boreholes to a depth of 24 metres at the golf course have shown that deep soakage in that area would not be satisfactory. Beca Carter Ferner and Hollings are now investigating two further sites at shallower depth, one near the golf course and one nearer the Whakapapa sewage treatment plant. From recent meetings of the Sewerage Working Group there is confidence that the scheme will proceed with construction scheduled for the summer of 2001-2002. Total cost is still expected to be not more than $3.75 million. Still to be decided was the ownership of the scheme. Election of Executive Council Clubs are reminded that elections for the RMCA Executive Council are to take place this year. Member clubs will elect an Executive Council comprising a President and six Councillors for a two year term to begin after the next Annual General Meeting which is likely to be held on 14 October. Nominations will be called in June/July and postal election will take place in August/September. Member clubs nominating Executive Council Members must be financial and nominees must each be a financial member of one of the Member clubs. John Todd and perhaps other Councillors will not be standing for election this year. Remember that RMCA exists for the benefit of all member clubs. Give some thought about who you want to represent the interests of not just your own but of all clubs. Annual General Meeting Plans are going ahead for the AGM this year to be held on 14 October, 2000. (The school term starts on 9 October.) The date is still to be confirmed with DoC and RAL. If it is unsuitable the next choices would be 7 or 21 October. The arrangements are expected to be similar to those which have led to the very useful and enjoyable meetings of the last few years. Remember to keep the date in mind so that one or two of your responsible and contributive members can attend.
Lodge Inspection Charges The second annual review of charges for the monthly inspection of lodges by Link Fire Services took place recently. Clubs using the service will be happy to know that once again the existing charge will remain for another 12 months. Forty lodges at Iwikau, Whakapapa and Ohakune are now inspected by Link each month to ensure their safety systems are in good working order and that clubs comply with compliance requirements of Ruapehu District Council. Acting Secretary Treasurer Your Secretary Treasurer, John Rockell will be away on holiday from30 April to 2 July. During that time RMCA Councillor John Todd will take over John’s duties. John Todd can be contacted at 130 C Cook Street, Palmerston North; or phone 06 356 1561 (Home), or 06 350 3917 (Work), and Fax 06 357 0224 (Work) He may also be contacted by e-mail at hbassett@hort.cri.nz Kind regards and hope for a good snow season. John Rockell Secretary Treasurer.