The Standards Association of New Zealand (SANZ) set the revised specification for the installation of solid fuel burning domestic appliances AS/NZS 2198:2001.
Local Territorial Authorities generally require compliance with section 33, Building Act 1991 and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
The Fire Safety Code is updated whenever statistics compiled by the National Fire Prevention Association and the Insurance Underwriters reveal that a given appliance placement, venting technique, or installation method causes fires.
These statistics show conclusively that, in case after case, code infractions result in property damage, injury and loss of life. This is why there are no “grandfather clauses” in the code book: when a code specification is changed, it is because actual fire claims have shown that the previous code standard is unsafe.
When an appliance causes fire damage, the insurance claims adjuster may report any code violations he finds to the insurance company. There are “loopholes” in every fire insurance policy, and can give the company grounds to cancel.
The fact that the installation has been in place for years, or that the insurance agent said it looked all right to him won’t ensure payment of a fire claim if the adjuster finds a code violation.
Insurance agents are not licensed or trained to perform code inspections; neither are firemen, building contractors, realtors, or masons. In fact, some of the most dangerous installations we’ve seen have been given the “OK” by well-meaning but misinformed members of these professions.
The Territorial Authority requires a thorough inspection of each chimney by a qualified chimney service contractor prior to the installation of any wood, gas, or oil-burning appliance:
We are trained and certified to perform these inspections. We also inspect each chimney flue and appliance installation for code violations as part of the job when we are called in to clean chimneys, out of concern for the safety of our clients. If we find violations, we make a notation on the report detailing our observations.
We don’t think it’s our place to “blow the whistle” on anybody: our reports go only to our clients.
Over the years, many of our customers have chosen to correct the code infractions we reported to them, and thanked us for providing the information.
Others have opted to ignore our reports, and, sadly, needless fires and insurance cancellations have resulted. As we see it, we have a responsibility as professionals to point out the violations we find, and offer our valued customers the peace of mind that comes from knowing their heating system is legal and up to code compliance.