20 fire appliances called to fight blaze in storage facility; top floor destroyed

Twitter photo from Simon Swampy Marsh

News from NZ Firs Service at 4.30
Fire has destroyed the upper floor of a Kilbirnie storage unit but the ground floor appears to have escaped with only water and smoke damage.

Firefighters have now begun to attack the fire from inside the building and expect this to take several hours as they work their way from unit to unit.

Assistant Area Commander Paul Smith says it has been a long and difficult fire to put out and it has been a hard slog for the firefighters who were called in from around the city to help.

“The fire is deep seated and we expect to be still fighting the fire tomorrow morning. Once it has been extinguished then a fire investigation will begin to determine the cause.”

Earlier this afternoon a digger was brought in to pull off part of the roof and a side wall to cool down the fire and allow firefighters to direct foam inside.

News from NZ Fire Service at 2pm
A large digger is being used to pull apart the Wellington storage facility to allow firefighters access to the interior., where a fire that has been burning for several hours has now been contained.

Assistant Area Commander Paul Smith says it has not been safe to fight the fire from inside and it has been difficult to get water into the interior from the aerial ladders and ground monitors. Removing part of the roof and wall will allow much more water to be directed into the seat of the fire.

AAC Smith said the building did not have sprinklers and shows how damaging a fire can be.

“Our advice is for commercial property owners of large buildings to install sprinklers – that way any fire that does start is either doused by the sprinklers or stopped from spreading until firefighters arrive.”

Twitter photo from Tim Fookes Mornings

News from New Zealand Fire Service at 10.45
Wellington firefighters have brought a large fire at a storage facility near the airport under control but say it will take some time to put it out completely.

Assistant Area Commander Paul Smith said the fire is not endangering any other buildings but it has been difficult to put out because the building is made up of numerous locked compartments.

Heavy machinery is being brought in to peel back a wall or part of the roof to provide better access for water to be directed inside from above.

Around half of the 20 appliances brought in from the surrounding stations and volunteer brigades to help fight the fire overnight have now been sent home and fresh firefighters brought in.

One firefighter suffered mild heat stress and is now resting at home.

Thick smoke from the fire will continue for some time and residents and workers in the area are advised to close their windows.

DomPost: Storage facility contained Oscars



  1. Peter Arrowby, 4. April 2014, 15:37

    This is an example of pure corporate greed. The Fire Service says if sprinklers had been installed the fire would have been contained. I made the foolish mistake of assuming Kiwi Self Storage operated on a professional basis only to find out now that they did not choose to install sprinklers. As a result I have lost my life’s possessions in the fire including many irreplaceable NZ art works.

  2. Peter Arrowby, 4. April 2014, 17:21

    I have lost everything and the facility had no sprinklers! Kiwi Self Storage is owned by Storeco Investments Limited. The directors are Andrew Mckenzie Fraser and Timothy Dromgool. I received an email from Fraser, with no title or corporate identification. I have posted my reply below:

    Mr Andrew Fraser,
    I note that it took you 14 hours to notify me of the fire. If you have my email, I assume you also have my telephone number, but of course you choose to hide behind an email and don’t even have the guts to put a corporate title to your name…what a surprise!

    The Fire Service have said that if the building had a sprinkler system, the fire could have been contained. Perhaps you would care to explain how you justify operating a storage facility with no sprinkler system? I’m sure your first justification will be that you are allowed to get away with it. We both know it’s inexcusable and a disgraceful example of corporate greed and negligence.

    Yes, I’ve lost a lifetime’s possessions and priceless NZ art due to your company’s desire to save a few dollars and exploit unsuspecting customers who assumed you were professional operators. You and your company are not fit for purpose and it is my hope that you will all suffer as much as you have caused so many others to suffer from your negligence.

  3. Toby Manhire, 5. April 2014, 18:57

    The great Wellington DJ Lemon lost c.8k records in the Kilbirnie fire, he tells RadioNZ. “a life’s work”. Horrible. He sounds devastated. [via Twitter]

  4. Maximus, 6. April 2014, 9:03

    Time for some intelligent commentary here, instead of just all the (rightfully) anguished screaming. Yes, of course you are upset if things have been lost, and no, they can never come back, but let’s get this clear: sprinklers are an expensive technology that are designed to save LIFE. They are installed in buildings where people live or work, as required by the Building Act, according to the requirements of the individual fire engineer who designs the life safety system. The Building Act does not require anyone to put sprinklers into a building which, by its nature, is not about storing people, but is instead about just places for things. Things that may or may not be able to be replaced with the insurance money.
    When sprinklers go off, they release thousands of liters of water, and the main damage is from the water, often to units below. There is no magical silver bullet solution. You want cheap, affordable storage, you are going to get it by picking a system that has low prices, and that is going to be achieved by them not having sprinklers, not having 2hr fire rated walls between units, not having expensive construction, and not having systems that would make your storage uneconomic. It’s life. Shit happens. Get over it.

  5. Peter Arrowby, 6. April 2014, 14:57

    Thank you for your empathy and helpful comments! No doubt in time I will “get over it”.
    The NZ Fire Service stated that if Kiwi Self Storage had sprinklers the fire could have been contained at its source. If sprinklers had been installed I may have suffered some water damage, but my possessions would not have been completely destroyed. Water damage would have been an acceptable outcome rather than total loss!
    Kiwi Self Storage also allow motor vehicles and boats with petrol and to be stored in the same buildings as everything else. If the Kilbirnie fire had progressed to those vehicles, the result could have been life threatening, so this is not just about the loss of possessions.
    I have used self storage in Australia, USA and the UK, and I can assure you that all the facilities had sprinklers. Many also had fire walls and fire doors that closed automatically to isolate fires. Kiwi Self Storage had none of this. Their facilities are built to the bare minimum standard to comply with NZ regs. Their prices are not cheap, so the bottom line is that this is just about extracting the maximum profit for the franchisees and the directors Andrew Fraser and Timothy Dromgool.
    I’ve have now located another facility in Wellington which has sprinklers and fire walls and charges less than Kiwi Self Storage, so your argument about the cost of sprinkler systems is clearly not reflected in the market. If I had known the truth about Kiwi Self Storage before the fire obviously I would not have used them. However while it’s too late for me, others have been warned and can make more informed decisions.


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