Preventing rural fires
Protecting your property from fire...
Although there are many benefits to living in the country, rural property owners face a higher risk of fire than city dwellers. If a fire starts it may not be detected as quickly and emergency services take longer to respond because of greater travel distances.
To protect your property from rural fire we recommend:
- installing smoke alarms and testing them regularly. For more information about smoke alarms visit www.fire.org.nz
- designing an escape plan and practicing it. For more information visit www.fire.org.nz
- keeping the grass green and mown or grazed around your home
- creating a safety zone around your home of at least 10m by clearing any dead or dry material and replacing flammable plants and trees with low flammable species (for more information visit www.nrfa.org.nz)
- making sure your property is clearly signposted with your RAPID rural property identification number
- installing multipurpose dry powder extinguishers in your house and out buildings
- keeping a garden hose connected and make sure it is long enough to reach around the house
- ensuring your driveway has a minimum clearance of 4m wide, 4m high and adequate turning space for large vehicles
- easy access to water supplies and making sure they are signposted
- storing firewood and other flammable material away from your house
- safe handling and storage of gas or liquid fuels
- maintaining machinery and equipment in working order
- disposing of ash safely in a metal container and using approved incinerators
- Priority zone 1
Create a defensible area or safety zone. Convert to lawn and less fire-prone species. Remove flammable materials, waste and combustible debris.
- Priority zone 2
Remove trees and scrub to allow the trees that remain to be evenly spaced so they’re not touching.
- Priority zone 3
Prune all large trees and remove all branches at least 2 metres from the ground. Thin subcanopy trees, cut down dead or dying trees and remove overhanging branches that are close to powerlines.
Tips for lighting fires in the open air
- Fuel: Plan to light stumps and heavy fuels after the end of summer because they can burn and smoulder for weeks (burn after the dry season when Fire Dangers are low.).
- Permits: Always obey permit conditions
- Fire Breaks: Clear at least 3 metres around the area to be burnt to stop the fire escaping. Larger fires require wider fire breaks – seek advice.
- Notification: Notify neighbours and the Rural Fire Authority on the day you are undertaking large burns to avoid confusion that your burn is a wildfire requiring a 111 response.
- Environmental: Check with your Regional Council for any smoke emission or other Resource Management Act constraints before burning. Do not burn plastics, rubber or toxins.
- Smoke: Ensure smoke from your burn does not create a nuisance or smoke hazard to others.
- Weather: Before lighting up check the long range weather forecast (48 hour) and ensure light winds are forecast. Windy conditions spell trouble and weather conditions can quickly change.
- Supervision: Fires often escape when no one is present. It is a legal requirement to supervise and patrol your fire until it is completely out.
- Be Prepared: Fires do escape! Have fire fighting equipment and a good water supply handy.