Restrictions on lighting fires in Hurunui

17 December 2010

There are now restrictions on the lighting of all open fires within the Hurunui District as the area gears up for another long hot summer.

Fire restrictions are now in force which means it is illegal to light any outdoor fire (except barbeques) anywhere in the district, without a permit.

Principal Rural Fire Officer, Allan Grigg, says even though we’ve had some rain in recent days it’s not nearly enough to put a damper on the need to impose restrictions, especially given the long term forecast – signalling the return of La Nina.

“There’s little doubt it’s going to be in for a long hot summer, and while that’s good news for holidaymakers, it’s not that great for our rural volunteer force if they’re being constantly turned out to put out fires that should never have been lit.”

While he says last summer things were reasonably quiet, “the season before was a continual fire storm”, with out of control blazes running fire-fighters off their feet.

“We need the community to play its part and stick to the rules. That means no permit, no fire.”

Landowners who may have a crop field or dried scrub and gorse they want to burn-off need to contact the Council. The Principal Rural Fire Officer will then perform a site visit, checking conditions, fire breaks, and what provisions are in place if a burn should get out of control, before deciding whether to issue a permit.

In some cases, he may require special conditions, in others he may refuse to issue a permit where he thinks it is potentially too dangerous.

“At the end of the day our fire-fighters, who are all volunteers, want to spend the festive season with their families and not out fighting fires that didn’t need to happen.”

With temperatures about to soar, farmers are also being asked to limit the use of headers, chainsaws, and lawn mowers to mornings, where they can to avoid the potential for sparks thrown by the machinery to start fires.

They should also have a plan to deal with any potential fire, should one occur, which may be simply carrying a fire extinguisher at all times.

“Most farmers have the ability to act as first responders. They generally have tanks capable of holding a couple of thousand litres of water they can attach a pump or hose to, to douse anything that ignites, which can put the lid on a blaze early, before it can really get up and roaring.”

Landowners in the Hurunui District also need to be aware different rules may apply depending on which fire jurisdiction they are in.

Those living near Balmoral Forest come under the Ashley Rural Fire District and are likely to be under year round restrictions because of their proximity to the forest.

Those within a kilometre of the coast, river beds or Department of Conservation or Crown land, are likely to come under DOC fire jurisdiction.

Landowners can check the Hurunui District Council website for more information around the rules for burning in a restricted fires season; maps detailing the different fire jurisdictions; and to apply for a permit.

For further information contact:

Allan Grigg

Principal Rural Fire Officer

Hurunui District Council

Phone: 03 314 0106