Most areas of New Zealand are now in Restricted or Prohibited Fire Seasons, following the extremely hot, dry and windy start to summer.
Make sure you go to checkitsalright.nz to check the fire season in your area, says Rob Goldring, National Advisor Fire Risk Management, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
"This year is shaping up to be much drier than previous years and with the La Nina conditions forecast, it is only going to get hotter and drier.
"We have already had some quite significant vegetation fires, much earlier in the fire season than usual. It is really important that people abide by the Fire Season rules. The rules are there for a reason: to keep people and property safe from fire."
"The whole East Coast of the South Island, and the Lower North Island from South Taranaki, across to Hawke’s Bay and down to Wellington and the Wairarapa are particularly dry.
"We are likely to have to increase fire season restrictions further in these areas before Christmas."
A Prohibited Fire Season means there is a total ban on the lighting of any fires in open air.
A Restricted Fire Season means a permit is required to light a fire in open air. You commit an offence if you knowingly or recklessly light, or allow another person to light, a fire in open air in an area that is in a Restricted Fire Season unless under a permit issued by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Any permits issued during a Restricted Fire Season are suspended if Fire and Emergency declares a Prohibited Fire Season, or prohibits fire in open air in the area.
Gas cookers or gas barbeques do not require a fire permit in a Restricted fire season. For cultural fires (hangi, umu) please apply for a permit and discuss with a Rural Fire Officer.
Please also note, all Public Conservation Land administered by the Department of Conservation is in a Year round/365 Day Restricted Fire Season.
Key fire safety tips include:
- Make sure your property has good access for firetrucks, and to water supplies.
- Have a well-practiced escape plan so everyone knows what to do if there is a fire.
- Call 111 immediately if you see any smoke.
- Maintain a defendable area free of vegetation around your home
- Store firewood in a cool dry place, not next to your home. It will dry out with the sun and heat and ignite easily.
- Dispose of cigarettes safely, do not throw them out the car window.
- Be vigilant when carrying out activities with machinery, that causes sparks and ignite a fire.
Dampen down the surrounding area beforehand, and undertake the activity first thing in the morning when it is coolest.
Remember to check the fire season at www.checkitsalright.nz as these activities may be fully prohibited due to the high risk of them starting a fire.
Use our fire safety checklist to help make sure your property is safe from vegetation fire this summer https://fireandemergency.nz/assets/Documents/Files/Is-your-property-safe-from-fire.PDF