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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
  • designing an escape plan and practicing it. For more information visit
  • 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
  • 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

Defensible Space


Defensible space

  • 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 09 486 7948 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.
  • Timing: Fires should be lit between 6am and 10am. Weather conditions are more stable during this time. DO NOT light a fire during night-time hours.