Controlled burns causing headaches for firefighters

Firefighters are urging landowners to advise them or the Hurunui District Council when they are planning a controlled burn after a series of unnecessary callouts.

Principal Rural Fire Officer, Allan Grigg, says volunteer firefighters have responded to seven or eight controlled burns over recent weeks after members of the public driving past have become concerned at the smoke and flames on a property and dialled one one one.

“In each case our crews, who should be at work or sleeping, have been turned out only to find they are not needed. That’s something like 50 to 60 manhours that are being lost to employers or families which is impacting on our local communities.”

While there is no requirement during an ‘open’ fire season for landowners to advise authorities of their intention to burn off vegetation, Allan Grigg sees it as a simple courtesy.

“The bottom line is our guys are busy enough dealing with real fires without wasting their time attending ‘a controlled burn’ where a simple notification to the council, or to us, can save us a lot of time and trouble.

“Where it is known a controlled burn is planned we can tick that off as one we don’t need to respond to if a call comes in or at least be able to phone and check before turning out a crew.”

Allan Grigg is also reminding landholders planning burns to keep any eye on the paper to confirm no restrictions have been put in place and to adhere to safe burning principles.

“While our guys don’t mind turning out where they are needed, where a fire has been purposefully lit, landowners have to take some responsibility for ensuring it is properly managed and extinguished in the first instance.

“Too many landholders are lighting a fire and then when it goes wrong simply dialling one one one, relying on us to be their back up. We are not their Plan B.

“They need to have a proper fire suppression plan in place before they light up and only call us where that fails to bring their blaze back under control.”

Allan Grigg says landholders should be aware they may be invoiced for the cost of a callout where proper precautions were not taken.

For further information contact:

Allan Grigg

Principal Rural Fire Officer

Hurunui District Council

03 314 8816