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Quake safety discrepancy in police buildings

BY ANDREA O'NEIL
Last updated 11:11 19/02/2013

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Porirua Police Station meets earthquake standards, despite a poor assessment of an identical building in Napier, say police.

However, some Police College buildings fall below standard and need strengthening.

Napier City Council last year assessed Napier police station as meeting 15.9 per cent of the building code, half the safe level of 33 per cent.

The three-storey station is identical in design and materials to Porirua's station.

Both were built in the 1960s by the Ministry of Works.

Porirua Police Station was assessed two years ago and meets 100 per cent of code in transverse (across the building's width) and 66 per cent of code in longitude.

Like all government buildings, the minimum standard for police stations is 66 per cent.

About 80 officers are based at the station.

Napier's assessment was carried out by council officers using plans, rather than visiting the building itself, says Nick Bohm, district communications manager for Wellington Police.

"The Porirua City Council completely accepted the assessment and removed the police station from the [earthquake-prone buildings] register.

"Napier City Council seems to be taking a different approach, even though their assessment was a desktop assessment."

Porirua's assessment is likely to be accurate, says Grant Ogilvie, New Zealand Police's chief media adviser.

"We do not accept the 15.9 per cent figure from Napier City Council and have provided them with far more detailed calculations about the structurally identical Porirua station."

Meanwhile, some buildings at the Police College in Papakowhai need earthquake strengthening, Mr Ogilvie says.

Assessments in 2011 found remedial work was required on the dining hall, gym and swimming pool, and the Barry Mason building - an administration hub - which were all built in the early 1980s.

All staff have been briefed and the buildings remain in use.

The remedial work to the dining hall and gymnasium/swimming pool will be done once the consent and tendering process is complete, says a police spokesperson.

For operational reasons, strengthening the Barry Mason building will not be done until 2014.

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