October 31, 2017
FireNZ 2017 was, once again, hugely successful for presenters, exhibitors and attendees alike. All the hard work that goes into staging events like this paid off and attendees and exhibitors learned from high-calibre international speakers, took part in workshops, and made the most of the chance to meet with virtually every major product supplier in the industry.
International Speaker James Antell from Jensen Hughes spoke about the ultra high rise buildings he had been involved with throughout the world. The fire safety challenges for these buildings were unique in many aspects because Building Codes had not been written for such tall buildings. However the designers observed that the design solutions generated often filtered down to regulatory requirements for lower height buildings so they were conscious of the wider impact of their building designs. Another unique feature of many of the buildings was that they were built in areas which had limited infrastructure provisions or a regular maintenance ethos. Therefore, their designs had to include redundancy and backup systems to cope with this.
Dr Tony Enright from Australia spoke about his investigations into Aluminium Composite panels following the Lacrosse apartment fire in Melbourne in 2014. This was very topical given the recent Grenfell Tower fire. He compared the properties of polyethylene core composite panels with the properties of petrol and likened building clad in Aluminium composite panels with a non fire retardant polyethylene core to that of wrapping a building in petrol.
Off-site there were some exciting events too, like that presented by the Auckland Airport Emergency Services team who showed delegates around the airport and arranged a demonstration of the plane fire test rig. Seeing just how rapid and organised their response was both inspiring and assuring.
This year’s FireNZ 2017 Gala Dinner guest speaker was Rebecca Wood, a member of the world champion Black Ferns and a firefighter with Fire and Emergency NZ. Becky talked about the recent success of the team and her personal story around becoming a world champion while maintaining a challenging career.
And what did Origin’s young fire engineers think of FireNZ 2017? What were the highlights for them?
The highlight of FireNZ 2017 was being able to Immerse myself in the talks and thoughts of experts in fire engineering across the country and from around the world. This platform provides not only the well-prepared presentation, but also face-to- face communication. Presentations initially provide a good chance to learn, face-to- face chats provide in-depth ways to understand the design concept of the high-quality work. – Dr Alex Zhu, Origin Fire
The highlights of FireNZ 2017 for me were the quality of the presentations and the interesting topics around fire safety in New Zealand and internationally. “Trends and practices in high rise fire safety” by James Antell who discussed the strategies that they undertook when designing fire safety systems from first principles, in high rise buildings was great, as was “Lacrosse Apartment fire and combustible cladding systems” by Dr Tony Enright – what went wrong and what went right. – Jen Tang, Origin Fire
FireNZ 2007 provided us a platform to get updates on all facets of the fire engineering industry. The presentations were informative and inspiring and the most memorable seminar for me was by Dr Richard Gasaways who discussed issues relating to first responder decision making and situational awareness. His research helps to understand first responder’s behaviours as well as why we behave the way we do in everyday stressful situations. It got me thinking. As fire engineers, how can we incorporate design strategies to deal with this ‘flaw’ in human behaviour? – Mona Liu, Origin Fire
Follow the goings on of the FireNZ 2017 Conference and exhibition by visiting their LinkedIn page here.