Waikato district is currently in an OPEN fire season.
During an open fire season, permits are not required for fires in the open air in rural areas unless in or within 1km of a Department of Conservation area or within the special Mangatawhiri swamp zone where a restricted fire season will remain in place. Landowners are reminded that they remain responsible for management of all fires lit on their land to prevent uncontrolled spread of a fire or any smoke nuisance or other adverse affect to neighbours. Those living in areas with peat soils should ensure there is no risk of a fire becoming seated in those soils. At no time will it be permissible to burn such materials as green vegetation, rubber, plastics, toxic materials or treated timber.
Waikato District Council fire control service
Waikato District Council provides a fire control service outside the urban fire districts so a quick response can be made to rural fires. This is achieved through co-operation with the New Zealand Fire Service and the use of council and contractor resources.
A District Fire Plan has been prepared, which details the responsibilities, resources and procedures that are used to meet these objectives.
Fire permits during a restricted season
A fire permit is required during a restricted fire season if you wish to light a fire in a rural area that is not one of the four activities listed below. There are certain times of the year when no fires are allowed because the fire danger is extreme, such as hot, dry summer periods.
The council also operates a restricted fire season during summer periods which means that a fire permit issued by a rural fire officer will be required. The permit will stipulate conditions under which you can light a fire.
Permits are not required for:
• Fires lit in BBQs
• Cooking fires
• Garden rubbish fires (less than one cubic metre in size)
It is recommended that you plan ahead if you wish to light a fire in a rural area, as permits can take up to five working days to process. Also, no permits will be issued during the period from five days before Christmas until 10 January.
If you are in a Department of Conservation reserve, or within 1 km of one, you require a permit from the Department of Conservation.
Permits are free and can be obtained by downloading and completing a fire permit application form and submitting it by mail, email or fax, or by visiting or phoning a Waikato District Council office.
• Download the Fire Permit Application form
Responsibilities when lighting a fire
If you light a fire you are responsible and held accountable for the costs if it escapes your control and causes damage, regardless of whether or not you have a permit.
Escaped fires have cost persons responsible for lighting them from $1,000 to $250,000 in fire fighting costs. Under the Forest & Rural Fires Act 1977, costs can be recovered from the person responsible for lighting a fire regardless of whether or not they have obtained a permit.
It is your responsibility to ensure the fire is not left unsupervised while burning, and is completely extinguished before leaving the burn site.
For all campfires, cooking fires, braziers, rubbish fires, controlled burn-offs, and prescribed burns, a minimum of three metres clearance must be made surrounding the fire.
Tips for lighting a fire:
Below are some tips for lighting a rural fire to help you be responsible and safe when lighting a fire:
- Fires are only to be lit during the hours of daylight and settled by nightfall
- Fires must be fully extinguished prior to being left at the end of the night
- Fuel – Plan to light stumps and heavy fuels at the end of summer because they can burn and smoulder for weeks
- Permits – Always obey permit conditions
- Fire Breaks – Clear at least three metres around the area to be burned to stop the fire spreading. Large fires require wider fire breaks – seek advice!
- Notification – Notify neighbours and your local fire authority on the day you are undertaking large fires to avoid confusion from visible smoke
- Environmental – Check with Council for any smoke emission or other constraints or requirements under the Resource Management Act 1991
- Smoke – Ensure smoke from your fire 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!
- Supervision – Fires often escape when no one is present. Fuel can smoulder for long periods. Supervise and patrol your fire until it is out
- Be Prepared – Fires do escape! Have fire fighting equipment and a good water supply handy