Procedure lapses at Petone fire

Last updated 12:55 29/05/2014
Troy Mahupuku

BADLY BURNED: Firefighter Troy Mahupuku, pictured while at the National Burn Centre in Auckland, sustained burns to 33 per cent of his body but is now making a good recovery.

Petone fire
KAROLINE TUCKEY / Fairfax NZ Zoom
Firefighters emerged blackened from a large blaze in Petone.

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A Wellington firefighter who almost died after being caught in an inferno was not rescued as quickly as he should have been, a report into the incident has found.

On August 23 senior firefighter Troy Mahupuku, suffered serious burns to 33 per cent of his body during a blaze which engulfed Petone motorsport seat company Racetech Systems.

He was eventually pulled from the blaze by his colleagues and underwent skin grafts for burns on his back at the National Burn Centre in Auckland.

An operational review and accident investigation report, released today by the New Zealand Fire Service, found aspects of the breathing apparatus safety and entry control procedures were not followed by the fire crews engaged in tackling the fire.

Deputy national commander Paul McGill said the five breathing apparatus wearers who first entered the building did not hand in their tallies as required and entry control procedures were not set up until after this time.

When the officer inside with the team noticed the fire was rapidly changing he ordered the crew out, but Mahupuku became separated and disoriented.

The other four crew members exited without realising Mahupuku was missing and continued to fight the fire. Luckily he made his way to near the exit door and was rescued but by that time had been badly burnt.

"Everyone must take responsibility for the procedural lapses - the leaders of the organisation, all levels of management and the front line officers and firefighters concerned.

"We consider that, ultimately, it is the organisation's responsibility to monitor standards and to ensure the right safety behaviours are adhered to, so the fire service is taking responsibility for addressing this."

Reviews of two separate fires in Auckland had also raised issues regarding breathing apparatus safety procedures and a corrective plan to improve safety had been implemented, he said.

This included an education programme, revising training programmes and sharing what was learnt from the Racetech fire through a case study training programme that all staff will be required to undertake.

Mahupuku is making a good recovery and has returned to operational duties, McGill said.

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- The Dominion Post

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