A fire sprinkler system in a Whangarei building saved about $1.75 million of stock and up to 110 jobs.
A Monday night fire in the New Zealand Yachts building on Fraser St, off Port Rd, was contained by water from the sprinklers before firefighters arrived and finished off the blaze.
Two superyacht outfitting companies which lease the building would have lost up to $1.75 million worth of stock between them if the fire had taken hold, while about 110 jobs would have been on the line, they say.
Northland region Assistant Fire Commander Mike Lister said a small piece of smouldering wood had settled in a sawdust pile before igniting at about 8pm on Monday, after workers had gone home.
As designed, the only automatic sprinklers which kicked into action were those directly above the fire, which was lapping up a wall of the 110m x 45m building. About $50,000 worth of stock and plant was destroyed.
The near-miss served as a reminder to business and home owners to get sprinklers installed if possible, Northland region Assistant Fire Commander Mike Lister said.
He believes if sprinkler systems had been installed in three buildings recently gutted by fire - the Kaitaia triboard mill, Kaikohe New World and a plastics recycling factory in Otaki - they would have been saved.
Grant Willis, the managing director of superyacht interior outfitting company Specialist Marine Interiors, was singing the sprinkler system's praises yesterday. "It saved our bacon without a doubt," he said.
Up to $750,000 worth of the company's stock could have gone up in smoke at the NZ Yachts building, while 97 jobs would have been under threat if the sprinklers had not contained the fire, he said.
Another lessee of the building, Northland Contract Boatbuilders, had about $1 million worth of superyacht components on the premises.
If fire had destroyed those components, another 15 jobs would have been at risk, general manager Bryan Purton said.