Over the next nine months, NZ's Department of Conservation (DOC) is installing hundreds of heat detectors and smoke alarms in backcountry huts that sleep over six people to comply with Fire and Emergency regulations.
Claire Spencer, the department’s director of national programmes, says new devices have lithium batteries guaranteed for at least 10 years and are sealed to make them difficult to tamper with.
Rooms with fireplaces – a potential source of smoke – need a heat detector. Rooms without a heating source, like a bunk room, will need a smoke detector. Huts with multiple rooms will need more than one device.
DOC estimates the total cost, excluding staff time, for installation and maintenance to be $NZ60,000 to $95,000.
“Wherever possible, the installation of fire detection devices will be completed as part of business-as-usual maintenance work,” Spencer says.
DOC says it has 948 visitor huts in the backcountry. Of those, 587 can sleep more than six people.
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