Housing NZ fitting smoke alarms

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Thirty Housing New Zealand Gore properties are being fitted with long-life smoke alarms.

As well as installing the smoke alarms the state-owned landlord is building secure driveway areas around three homes, Housing New Zealand area manager Kate Milton said.

“Helping our tenants and their families stay safe is a big part of what we do as the country’s largest landlord,” Ms Milton said.

“We spent $474million on maintenance and improvements in our 2016-17 financial year,” she said.

Housing New Zealand owns 39 properties in the Gore district.

During the past few years the entity rolled out several specific programmes to protect tenants outside and inside their homes.

Two important components were smoke alarm upgrades and a focus on driveway safety, Ms Milton said. Both involved making sure the latest technologies were employed to provide safe areas around motor vehicle access-ways for children and early warning in case of fires inside houses.

“In Gore, this has seen us install photo-electric smoke alarms in 30 of our properties.”

Fire and Emergency New Zealand recommended this type of alarm, as it provided up to 10 years of smoke detection and removed the frustration of fixing the flat-battery beep.

Ms Milton said it had been a successful partnership with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, which fully endorsed the programme.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Fire national adviser fire risk management Peter Gallagher said the organisation worked closely with Housing New Zealand to keep communities safe.

Ms Milton said the driveway safety programme, which began in 2013, aimed to reduce the risk of children being run over in the driveways of state homes, by installing fencing, self-closing gates with child-resistant latches, speed restriction signs, speed humps and convex mirrors where appropriate.

The programme had resulted in improvements made to a further three properties in the Gore area.

It focused on separating play areas from driveways and ensuring play areas were directly visible and accessible from main living areas.

The programme and its values have been supported and commended by Safekids Aotearoa.

Safekids Aotearoa director Melissa Wilson also encouraged all homeowners and tenants to be extra careful around their driveways this summer.

Most driveway accidents occurred during summer when families were busy, out of routine and spending time outdoors, she said.

“On average, around five children in New Zealand die from driveway run-overs every year and sadly, it is often a family member who is behind the wheel,” Ms Wilson said.