Fire coupling thefts endanger lives
Thu, 12 Jul 2012 6:03p.m.
By Amanda Gillies
Two men have appeared in an Auckland court charged with stealing parts from fire alarm sprinkler systems.
The parts are made of copper and brass, and can be sold to scrap metal merchants.
But furious fire crews warn the price may include people's lives.
Waikato area fire manager Roy Breeze says, in theory, it should be difficult to remove the sprinkler parts.
“If you did anything to [the] system it will trigger the alarm, and we can come straight away,” he says.
The reality now is someone knows the system and is beating it, putting lives at risk.
“It's quite scary that someone would go in and tamper with a life-protecting system. The scary thing is they understand the system quite well to do that,” says Mr Breeze.
The couplings are used to supply additional water during fires. They're found in fire sprinkler boxes, usually at the front of high-rise buildings.
But on Sunday, Hamilton firefighters were called to a fire at the Downtown Plaza and when they went to attach their hose to the coupling, it was gone.
This prompted an immediate investigation that discovered 25 others had been tampered with - including those at the City Council and Waikato hospital.
“It's obviously potentially dangerous for people who occupy these premises and also the danger is nobody knows about it until you go to use it,” says Waikato Detective Sergeant Neville Ross.
“Obviously when they take it to a scrap metal yard they will make a reasonable amount of money out of each one. How much, I don't know.”
Police believe the offenders pose as technicians, and they aren't just striking in Hamilton. Sixty more have been stolen nationwide, and those are just the ones police and firefighters know about.
Auckland police arrested two men yesterday, charging them with burglary.
They appeared in court this morning but police believe a third, and possibly a fourth person is involved and are trying to track them down.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” says Senior Sergeant Steve Kose from North Shore police.
Firefighters say business owners and managers should check their sprinkler boxes and contact them immediately if anything looks amiss.
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24/10/2012 11:34:18 a.m.
Huy Seth wrote:
Seth this is an article that was on TV3 news recently. Our sprinkler contractor knows personally of 150 flanges stolen.
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