Survey: Many Wellington High-Rises Fail Earthquake Standards

Building with failed earthquake standardsMany high-rise buildings in Wellington have a 73% non-compliance rate for earthquake standards such as securing pipes and fire sprinklers, according to a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) survey.

The survey conducted in 2016 represented the first official disclosure of urban infrastructure’s failure to comply with earthquake standards for non-structural components. It based its findings on 41 floors of 20 commercial towers with four stories or more. These buildings have also been in existence for less than 60 years.

Not Just Wellington

Kevin O’Connor and Associates (KOA) did the survey for MBIE, and the engineering company said that high-rise buildings in Auckland also failed to comply with quake standards. However, the city recorded a much higher failure rate than Wellington at 100%.

In both cities, 89% of ceilings and 85% of partition walls in the surveyed buildings were not properly secured, according to KOA. Also, eight key components of buildings failed to meet earthquake standards.

The report also noted that 45% of electrical and data systems in Wellington require improvements. Aside from high-rise buildings, electrical testing in homes here in Wellington is important to prevent fire hazards.

Council’s Advisory

The Wellington City Council has advised residents on several preventive measures for fire safety around the house. Households should place furniture and curtains at least a metre away from heaters, while electric blankets should be turned off before bedtime.

If you have a smoke alarm at home, you should clean it every six months to maintain proper function. Find an electrician to inspect any faulty wiring or repair broke appliances.

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The survey shed light on what Auckland and Wellington should do to improve structural safety of high-rise buildings. For home-owners, preventive maintenance against flame hazards is important since fire usually occurs after an earthquake.