High on a hillside overlooking the picturesque Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables, sits the eco-friendly Sherwood Hotel. However, it was not the location that brought this hotel to the attention of Fire Risk Management Officer, (FRMO) John Smalls, from Area 23; it was the 27 false alarms, five small fires and one reasonably sized fire.

This building had the highest false alarm rate in the area, so John contacted the owner and began a dialogue in November 2015 to find out what was happening. The false alarms not only occurred in the hotel rooms but also in the open restaurant/kitchen area. John worked with them to build a ‘False Alarm Management Plan’ as well as helping to upgrade the fire alarm system to an addressable intelligent system. They worked with a local company to stage the upgrade over six months which included:

  • upgrading the detectors in 15 out of 16 rooms in the lodge building to have devices and fitted cages installed to all sensors over the bunk beds to stop damage from backpackers
  • upgrading the alarms in the restaurant to multi-criteria heads to prevent the smoke from the open fire and open wood BBQ from activating the alarms
  • removal of toasters in rooms
  • implementing a staff training programme with ongoing regular training
  • upgrading the detectors in the bathrooms and hallways of the hotel blocks to work with the new analogue addressable panel
  • implementing a 12-month cycled deep clean/assessment programme for the new smoke detectors.

The number of false alarms has decreased to two in 2017 and none so far this year. This is a great result for an area which relies on the response from volunteer brigades.

“The Sherwood has not rested on their laurels as they were very helpful during a recent scrub fire a year or so ago. They found rooms for all the rural firefighters (not easy in Queenstown) and gave them all a free meal in the evening. So in my mind, they are an exemplary building.” - John Smalls, FRMO, Area 23

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