Argest Compliance & Fire Inspection Services at Alert Level 4 Covid-19

Argest is here to support you during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though our offices are not accessible, the Argest team is set up to work remotely and safely from their homes and are contactable in the normal way by phone and email.

We are actively monitoring all updates and directions from the Government, MBIE and industry associations relating to on-site compliance services, as well as managing communication with Councils on your behalf. We will focus on your compliance over this time and allow you to focus on your business, staff and personal wellbeing. 

Site Inspections and Testing

There are a number of important changes and limitations to IQP and fire sprinkler inspections and testing which will impact your building. For the most part, all planned inspections and testing will be suspended until the Aert Level decreases and sites are allowed to be accessed.

If you are providing Essential Services, or your buildings are occupied or being used for Essential Services, your Contracts Manager will be able to assist you on the services you will need to support your staff and occupants of your buildings.

You are able to request Argest to provide or arrange certain services that directly assist in maintaining a safe and healthy environment for your staff, occupants and users or your buildings. The range of those services is being reviewed on a regular basis and we will update you if these changes will apply to your building.

If you do require on-site services, then we will work with you to complete all the necessary confirmations, approvals, site access and health and safety procedures that will need to be followed for any site work.

For most commercial buildings during Alert Level 4 all inspections and testing will be suspended.

Managing your Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF)

We appreciate the suspension of inspections and testing will impact the ability to meet the requirements for the issue our your BWOF and some may even fall overdue over the lockdown period. Based on the updates from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Territorial Authorities (Councils), deferment of the issue of BWOF’s is the preferred option, with annual inspections, preventative maintenance and testing to be rescheduled when site access is allowed. Once these are done, and any repairs deemed necessary for compliance are completed, the BWOF will be issued for your building as soon as practicable. An allowance will be made for missed monthly inspections or testing unable to be carried out during Alert Level 4.

Things you can do for the Health and Safety of your staff, occupants or users of your building during Alert Level 4

If you do have staff in buildings being used for essential services, especially where they’re being accessed by the public or emergency services workers, assign a responsible person to carry out checks that can be done maintaining a safe distance.

  • Your emergency exits continue to be well signed and clear of any obstructions
  • Information and safety signs for your fire alarms, auto-doors, disabled access, lifts are still in place
  • Your fire alarm/fire sprinkler panels (if your building has one) are indicating “Normal”

If your building is residential, then any such checks should be completed by someone who resides in that building, but not in a way that compromises or requires entry into another’s “bubble” like an individual apartment. Checks should be limited to public areas, and only completed if it is possible to maintain a 2-metre gap, taking precautions like washing hands before and after the checks, and of course not completed by anyone who is ill or is required to self isolate themselves due to having or being in contact with people with Covid-19.

What will happen as we exit Alert Level 4

We are already preparing for what inspections and preventative maintenance services your building will need once New Zealand is able to exit Threat Level 4, as well as the process to get any impacted or delayed Building Warrant of Fitness’s issued as quickly as possible. We will be working with each Council to ensure any delayed or overdue BWOF is managed and that we comply with any specific processes that are put in place.

Who to contact

Please continue to contact your Argest Contracts Manager, as usual, using email or by phone or via 0800 ARGEST (0800 274 378)

We would like to thank you for continuing to use Argest for your compliance services during this challenging time, and wish you and your teams all the very best to stay safe and well. 

Common Compliance Issues

Non-compliant locks installed on final exits 

Certain types of locks should not be installed on final exits and doors on escape paths as they could prevent occupants from escaping in the event of emergency. These are examples of locks that should not be installed. 

certain lock types are a compliance issue

Penetrations through fire and smoke separations

Unsealed penetrations through fire and smoke separations allow fire and smoke to spread. 

All penetrations through fire and smoke separations are required to be sealed using approved materials. Evidence of compliance with the NZ Building Code (C/AS2 – 7) for any fire-stopping system is required.

Stored items 

Do not store items in stairwells, escapes paths, locations that obstruct occupants using an exit door, or close to sprinkler heads. Stored items can prevent the sprinkler head from operating effectively in the event of fire. 

unsealed penetrations are a compliance issue
Example of unsealed penetrations

Non-consented access-controlled door systems 

Access-controlled door systems are considered a specified system under the Building Act 2004. Therefore, a Building Consent is required to install, modify, or remove these systems. If you are unsure whether the system you are installing requires a building consent, consult your local Building Consent Authority. 

Paint on sprinkler heads 

When painting around sprinkler heads ensure the correct covers are obtained from a fire company to avoid paint splatter coming into contact with the sprinkler head. 

Paint splatter can affect the operation of the sprinkler head requiring it to be replaced which can be costly if numerous sprinkler heads are affected.

Importance of owner’s inspections and record-keeping 

The Building Act 2004 requires all inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures of the Compliance Schedule have been fully complied with for the previous 12 months for a Building Warrant of Fitness to be issued.

This includes owners’ inspections — just one missed inspection could result in your site not being able to display a BWOF. It is crucial all inspections are carried out and recorded. 

In the event the local Territorial Authority carries out a site audit and finds incomplete records for specified systems listed on the site compliance schedule, a ‘Notice to Fix’ may be issued for the site. This requires action from the owner to avoid an infringement fee. 

Blinds and curtains 

When hanging curtains or blinds on fire exit doors it is important to ensure that fire alarm activation devices, call points, exit signage, and means of opening the door (push bar, handle etc.) are visible at all times to enable occupants a swift exit from the building in case of an emergency. 

Ensure that the curtain or blind fits on the door itself, allows the door hardware to be visible, and does not pose an obstruction, such as a tripping hazard or flammable material. 

Blinds and curtains that have been installed on fire exit doors as part of a lockdown procedure must also be fire resistant and follow the fire safety regulations. 

curtains in front of fire exits are a compliance issue

Using wedges to hold open fire and smoke doors 

Fire and smoke doors that are not interfaced with the fire alarm should be kept shut at all times. This prevents the spread of smoke and fire in the event of a fire. 

Fire and smoke doors have signage installed stating please keep closed, directions need to be followed. 

Further information about building compliance

If you require any further information regarding any of these or other Building Compliance issues, please contact Argest.

Current Initiatives during the COVID-19 Outbreak

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, Argest has the safety and health of our team, clients and the wider community at the forefront of our minds. We want to provide you with an update on what we’re doing in light of the pandemic.

At this time, we are working hard to ensure this situation will not impact our ability to continue to deliver our Building Warrant of Fitness, IQP and Sprinkler Inspections services to you. We want to ensure you are able to continue to meet the requirements of the Building Act 2004 to keep your building safe and compliant. Argest has developed a COVID-19 response plan to ensure that we can look after our team and continue to deliver our services efficiently. 

Here’s an overview of some of Argest’s current initiatives:

  • We are following Ministry of Health guidelines and directing staff to remain at home if they are feeling unwell
  • We are able to have our people to work remotely from home for BWOF management and already have this in place and tested
  • We have put a COVID-19 Policy in place for our inspectors and subcontractors who have to go on to a customer site
  • Our COVID-19 Policy includes strict directives for our inspectors not to attend site if there is any chance of COVID-19 exposure or other illnesses
  • We have instigated an additional step to confirm with our clients that sites are safe to enter and be made aware of additional protocols we need to follow in regards to that site’s pandemic plan
  • We have arranged for our team to receive the latest flu vaccination
  • We have shared best practice health tips with our team, instigated extra hygiene precautions and informed our team of the need for social distancing practices

What we ask of you:

  • Even if you have your staff working from home or have skeleton staff, you will still need to have your Specified Systems, like fire alarms and sprinklers, tested and inspected so your building can have a current Building Warrant of Fitness. You will need to provide our inspectors and testers with access. This will be done with under tightly managed conditions including strictly enforced distancing
  • If your site cannot be accessed due to the presence of COVID-19, or the building is being used for self-isolation, please contact us immediately so that we can defer inspections
  • If people at your site become unwell prior to an inspection and will be present at the planned time of an inspection or test, please advise us immediately so that we can defer inspections
  • Please advise us if there are special conditions and protocols you need our inspectors to follow when on your site in relation to COVID-19 so that we can communicate that to them
  • If you have any other face to face meetings booked in with us, please talk to us about changing to “Teams” video or phone conference

Argest is following a policy of doing everything it can to help keep our clients and staff safe. While we have had to put new measures in place, we are also keen to minimise disruption and continue to deliver our services to you as normally as possible.

We would like to thank you for your co-operation and support at this time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your Argest Contracts Manager.

Fire Separations – Safe All The Time

ARGEST Building Compliance is a (BWOF) Building Warrant of Fitness agent.

The BWoF (Form12) is based on the collection of forms 12A from all of the service providers for all of the systems listed on your building’s Compliance Schedule.

Some of these systems require regular (monthly, quarterly or bi-annual) checks, and others only a yearly inspection shortly before the re-issue of the BWoF is due.

During the year there may be changes to some of these specified systems that go unnoticed — e.g. new fibre optic cables installed by Chorus may need to go through fire separations.

The importance of getting it right

Fire can destroy any building if the design does not take account of the risk and minimise potential dangers. Below is an example of effective fire separations.

How safe are the occupants in your building right now?

  • Have there been any upgraded or new services installed in the past six months? e.g. Air conditioners, IT or Telecom cables, etc.
  • Does your BWOF compliance schedule include:
    – Fire Separations – SS15/3
    – Smoke Separations – SS15/5
  • Have all the firewalls/ceilings and smoke barriers been inspected for compliant penetration seals?
  • Do you have a ROUTINE MAINTENANCE PLAN in place to cover passive fire inspections?
  • Do you have all the evidence of compliance required for all passive fire penetration seals from your specialist fire-stopping installer, so a Form 12A can be issued for SS15/3 & SS15/5 by them?
  • Do you have a Compliance Assessment Consultant working with your existing IQP’s & service providers to provide the specialist knowledge required to ensure BWOF compliance and insurance requirements surrounding passive fire protection?
Fire separations – safe all the time

What’s wrong with this picture? Your building should be SAFE TO OCCUPY ALL THE TIME, with up-to-date repair records, maintenance reports and inspection logs available to Council.

Argest can assist you to develop/improve a long term scheduled or routine maintenance plan. This will avoid the risks the come with managing your own BWOF compliance requirements, and avoid costly last-minute remediation.

To arrange an initial observation of the passive fire/smoke separations in your building and a brief introduction to passive fire compliance requirements, simply contact the team at ARGEST Technical Services on 09 309 9419.

Fire alarm system upgrade

Fire Alarm System Upgrades

Fire alarm systems are becoming more sophisticated, with an ever-growing number of different options available to building and business owners. Assessment of the suitability of fire alarm systems increasingly needs specialised knowledge and a growing reliance on your existing fire company.  

If you are experiencing fire alarm issues and costly repairs, have an aging alarm system, or a new addition or alteration to your building needing integration into your alarm system, it can be hard to know what is the best and most cost-effective solution. The selection of the wrong fire alarm system can result in significant ongoing costs and compliance issues – problems you and the occupants of your building do not need!

Are you needing the answers to any of these commonly asked questions before you invest in a new fire alarm system?

  • Do you feel you are being forced into expensive or unnecessary upgrades?
  • Do you need sound independent advice? 
  • Are you concerned with future proofing?
  • What system is the correct choice for your needs?
  • Do you want the minimum to meet code requirements, or go that bit further to protect your investment?
  • Do you have something unusual that needs specialist protection?
  • What impact could a fire have on your business?
  • How do I prevent false alarms?

Argest understands your situation and can provide independent advice that will ensure you are able to ensure your building or site is covered by a fire alarm system best suited to your needs.  As Argest is not a Fire Alarm product supplier or installer, you can be assured of our independence as we help you manage your fire alarm upgrade.

We provide this service for fire alarm upgrades across New Zealand, saving time and money for building owners and property managers.  

Our fire alarm upgrade management service will provide you with:

  1. Assessment of requirements, site visit  and initial conceptual design, including a basic Fire Report demonstrating the compliance of the new fire alarm system with the appropriate standards, regulations and health and safety obligations
  2. New fire alarm specification and building consent application required for fire alarm upgrade
  3. Preparation of tender documentation for your approval and issue of the approved tender and the coordination and management of supplier pre-tender visits
  4. Tender reviews and recommendations based on your requirements and procurement processes and awarding to approved supplier including contract finalisation to your agreed terms
  5. Construction and installation management and facilitation and attendance of progress meetings with the supplier and you
  6. Health and safety monitoring for alarm upgrade projects
  7. Inspection on completion of installation and follow-up on and defects and formal handover and confirmation of documentation needed for compliance records

If you are contemplating or planning a fire alarm system upgrade or extension and need help answering these key questions:

  • What system is the best choice for me and my business?
  • Do I have something that needs specialist protection?
  • Do I feel forced into making expensive or unnecessary upgrades?

If any of these questions are relevant to you, then contact Argest now. We would be happy to discuss your specific project to see how our service can provide the benefits and assurance you need for this important area of your building or site’s fire protection. 

Phone 0800 ARGEST and ask for Fire Alarm Upgrade assistance or email

sprinkler system

Sprinkler Surveys and Commissioning Inspections

Argest Fire is excited to welcome Shane Grant to our growing team in Wellington as a Fire Technical Inspector. Argest Fire has accredited IANZ inspectors able to carry out biennial sprinkler surveys, and inspections for installation and commissioning new sprinkler and fire alarm systems.  

Fire sprinkler systems play a crucial role to ensure the safety and protection of occupants and users of buildings in the event of a fire. It is essential your sprinklers are tested to confirm they are working correctly and any issues or defects are resolved before a fire. Inspections and surveys are required by law under the Building Act 2004, related regulations and standards.

If you have a sprinkler system, or are installing a new sprinkler or alarm system, Argest can work with your installer to carry out the surveys needed to comply with your legal obligations. Argest is committed to giving you peace of mind that your building will have fire protection when you need it most. 

Key Services we can provide for you are: 

  • Biennial Sprinkler Surveys (NZS4515 & NZS4541)
  • Commissioning Inspections for new sprinklers (NZS4515 & NZS4541)
  • Commissioning Inspection for fire alarm systems (NZS4512)
  • Testing of hydrants and risers
  • Testing of sprinkler backflow protection
  • Water pressure measurement and logging
  • Water flow testing

All our inspections are undertaken using the latest tools and web based recording and reporting systems. 

Contact Argest now to discuss your specific biennial or new sprinkler inspection requirements to see how our services can provide you with the assurance you need for this important aspect of fire protection. 

Phone 0800 ARGEST and ask for Argest Fire or email:

Auckland Council Auditing Buildings

In anticipation of the official announcement from Auckland Council, we would like to advise that Auckland Council is currently in the process of auditing buildings through a consultancy company.

If your building(s) have specified systems installed which trigger a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWoF), auditors will be visiting your building(s) in the next few years.  This is part of the process to ensure building owners are meeting the requirements under the Building Act 2004. Please note you will receive a letter from Auckland Council to advise a time frame for when your building will be audited.

The initial audit (IBA) will be a brief inspection (depending on the property) which will focus on the following:

  1. That your Building Warrant of Fitness is clearly visible in the foyer /public area of your building
  2. Accuracy and availability of inspection records in your Compliance Manual.
  3. That your Compliance Schedule is up to date with detailed descriptions of the specified systems.
  4. The Building Warrant of Fitness matches the Compliance Schedule onsite

If, upon initial inspection, any of the above items are not in order, they will have reasonable grounds to further progress the audit.  Please be aware that Auckland Council will charge for further investigations. Unfortunately we haven’t been advised what these charges will be, we can only advise that costing is dependent on the size of the building and time spent.

It is highly likely the auditor will recommend a Compliance Schedule Audit (CSA), also at an additional cost.  This will be to update your Compliance Schedule to include specific information of the specified systems installed in your building(s).  Auckland Council will advise on a timeframe to give you the opportunity to provide information, or Auckland Council will conduct the CSA and on charge the costs.

Here are some handy links with more information on WOF fines and penalties and on building infringement fines for failing to comply with the Building Act 2004, as these could be part of the additional costs.


The Initial Audit (IBA) in detail

  1. Displaying your Building Warrant of Fitness

As per Section 108 of the Building Act 2004, the building owner must display a copy of the Building Warrant of Fitness in a public area.  This will be the first thing the auditors check when walking into your building.

Please be aware that there is an infringement fine for failing to display the Building Warrant.


  1. Compliance Manual – 2 years worth of records

As per Section 110 of the Building Act 2004 two years worth of records are required to be kept.  Records are kept in a Compliance Manual, which is kept on site, in an easily accessible area to council inspectors, IQP inspectors and technicians.

The Compliance Manual contains a detailed record of inspections and maintenance carried out by your service providers for each specified system.

The Compliance Manual also includes a copy of the BWOF, a copy of the Compliance Schedule, a copy of all 12A certificates and any action relating to remedial work.

Please check that you have two years worth of inspection records in your Compliance Manual.

An electronic copy of all records is acceptable as long as they are available to auditors while on site.

If you do not have a Compliance Manual you can contact Argest and we can arrange one for you. This will be at an additional cost.


  1. Compliance Schedule – Detailed, site specific, information for each specified system

It is the building owner’s responsibility to ensure the Compliance Schedule is correct and provide any information to Auckland Council.  As per Section 103 of the Building Act amendment in 2012, your Compliance Schedule is required to have the following information:

  1. state and describe each of the specified systems covered by the compliance schedule, including a statement of the type and (if known) make of each specified system; and
  2. state the performance standards for the specified systems; and
  3. describe the inspection, maintenance, and reporting procedures to be followed by independently qualified persons or other persons in respect of the specified systems to ensure that those systems are capable of, and are, performing to the performance standards.

Please check your Compliance Schedule(s) to find out whether or not there is a detailed description of each specified system.  If there is no specified system information, you will need to contact each of your service providers to obtain this information.  The specified system information will then need to be provided to Auckland Council to update the Compliance Schedule(s).   It is recommended you keep any correspondence to provide to the auditors if required.

Please contact Argest if you require any assistance with your Compliance Manual.



Please be aware that if further investigation is required, the auditors will request a copy of the annual IQP reports from the service providers that maintain/inspect your specified systems.

This requirement is part of section 110 of the Building Act; however an accepted form and content has been unclear. We have received the Auckland Council approved Annual IQP report and will be sending to all service providers to complete with our 12A request.



Please be aware that most building requires a fire report.  Please contact Argest and we can advise you if your building does require a fire report.

If your building does require a fire report, it is highly recommended you request a copy of your Property File from Auckland Council to find out if there is a Fire Report for your building(s).   The Fire report will assist with finding out where the fire and smoke separation is located.  If you do not have a fire report, it is recommended you contact a fire engineer to obtain one.

Argest can assist you by going through your Property File(s); however this will be at an additional cost.

Now is the ideal time to review your building compliance plan for 2019

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to check you are up to date with the building compliance obligations for your property portfolio – and plan for the 2019 year.

Check your Building Compliance is up to date with this simple checklist

First, confirm that:

  • Your BWOF for each building is displayed, and current
  • Your Inspection Logs and Manual  are up to date and filed for easy access and updating
  • You have forms ready in your log book, or manual, for you and your IQP’s to record the inspections for the year ahead
  • You have a schedule for the Owner’s Inspections you will be carrying out and have added these dates to your calendar or diary
  • Any new installations have the necessary consents, and details of the new systems have been provided to Argest to get your Compliance Schedules up to date
  • Your maintenance and service contracts for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Units, Lifts, and other Specified Systems that have this as a requirement under the Building Act, are in place
  • Maintenance checks are being done on Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Units, Lifts, and other Specified Systems that have this as a requirement under the Building Act.

Cost implications of Building Compliance

When planning for your Building Compliance, you will need to consider the following in your budget for the 2019 year:

  • Your budgeted expenses will cover the likely increases in Council fees and charges for compliance services. You can check with your local council or Argest for information on your area
  • Ensure you have contingencies for council audits – both for time available, and remediation funding – as audits are increasing in frequency and depth of review.
  • Argest can provide a consulting service to assist you manage the audit process and council negotiation if required.

Finally, if you have new staff that will be completing Owner’s Inspections, or looking after your Building Compliance processes, make sure they have been trained on how to carry out and record inspections properly.  Argest can provide training on what is required under the Building Act to you, and your new staff.

If you need any help or advice on your Building Compliance, Argest is here to help

Please contact us on 0800 ARGEST or online now.

Building Compliance Terminology

Building compliance is primarily concerned with protecting the people who enter your building by ensuring the safety and essential systems operate as intended.As you probably know the compliance industry has a language all of its own. There are so many acronyms and specialist terms that we thought it wmay be helpful to share some, roughly in the order that you might encounter them over the life of a building.

Building Compliance Jargon

The Building Act 2004

The Building Act 2004 is the legislation that governs the building industry in New Zealand. Contained within the Building Act 2004 are the duties for building owners and managers.

The New Zealand Building Code
The building code gives guidance on how a building and its components must perform. It does not prescribe how the building must be designed or constructed.

Building Consent
A building consent is the formal approval to undertake building work.

Code Compliance Certificate (CCC)
A Code Compliance Certificate confirms that the completed work complies with the building consent.

Compliance Schedule
A Compliance Schedule lists the safety and essential systems in a building and the procedures to inspect report and maintain them.

Compliance Schedule Statement (CSS)
A Compliance Schedule Statement is issued as temporary public notification for the first 12 months after a building is completed. It is then replaced, providing compliance is met, by the first building warrant of fitness.

Form 12A
A 12A is a certificate issued for each safety or essential system. It states that the inspection, maintenance and reporting procedures listed on the compliance schedule have been complied with for the previous 12 months.

Building Warrant of Fitness (Form 12)
A BWOF is issued after a 12A certificate has been collected for each safety and essential system listed on the Compliance Schedule. It states that the requirements of the compliance schedule have been met for the previous 12 months.

Certificate for public use (CPU)
A certificate of public use certifies that premises affected by building work are safe to be used by the public.

Notice to fix
A notice to fix is a statutory notice requiring a person to remedy a breach of the Building Act 2004.

Independent Qualified Person (IQP)
An IQP is a person approved to inspect certain compliance schedule items and to ensure that the necessary maintenance occurs. The “Independent” description means the person has no financial interest in the building, other than being contracted to undertake the work.

Building Consent Authority (BCA)
Territorial Authorities and councils are to become registered as Building Consent Authorities. BCAs will be responsible for the issuing of all consents, code compliance certificates, notices to fix and compliance schedules.

Strengthening MBIE’s role as building regulator

A recent review showed Building System Performance (BSP) is the regulatory system within MBIE that needs the most attention to improve performance. Following that review, BSP is being transformed to shape the building regulatory system to meet New Zealand’s current and future needs.

General Manager BSP Anna Butler says, “The work MBIE and BSP does matters – building and construction make a significant contribution to our nation’s economy and social wellbeing.”

See the full article on the MBIE Website.