The Otorohanga District Council is the Rural Fire Authority responsible for fire protection and suppression within the District, with the exception of the following areas:
- Urban fire districts (Otorohanga and Kawhia) under the control of the New Zealand Fire Service.
- State areas (Crown land, Scenic Reserves including a 1km margin around each reserve) administered by the Department of Conservation.
- Areas under the control of Pumicelands Rural Fire District. (Ranginui/Mangakino Area)
District Fire Map
Rural Fire is managed by Council staff with operational response provided by NZFS fire brigades and contracted helicopter, fire fighting and earthmoving operators.
The Otorohanga District Council as the Rural Fire Authority must manage fire prevention and management, and does this by:
- Providing education on rural fires, and how to prevent them.
- Restricting the use of fire, or even banning the lighting of fires in very dry weather by means of declaring an Open, Restricted or Prohibited fire season.
- Being prepared for, and responding to rural fires in the district.
For more information on Rural Fire visit the National Rural Fire Authority at http://www.fire.org.nz/
ODC Fire Season Descriptions
Open Fire Season
Generally from end March to second Monday of January.
This means that in all cases, any person may light a fire in the open air without a fire permit. They must of course take all necessary precautions, including:
- No lighting of fire's under windy conditions, near to buildings, neighbours property, or potentially flammable vegetation, materials or liquids.
- Remain in attendance of the fire until it is fully extinguished.
- Fires must not be lit at night without first obtaining a fire permit to do so.
Even though you can light a fire without a permit, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extingush it, and can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances of negligence. (see section below)
Restricted Fire Season
Fire restrictions are applied across the Otorohanga District from the second Monday of January to the end of March. But may be extended if conditions require when fire danger is high and may be put in place at any time of the year.
Restrictions mean that fire permits need to be obtained from a Rural Fire Officer, who may stipulate conditions on burning that must be met. Three working days are required between the request for a fire permit and the time to burn, to enable staff to inspect sites and process fire permits. Even though you receive a permit and comply with the conditions, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extinguish it, and can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances (see section below)
People traditionally reliant on burning household rubbish need to be making alternative arrangements for disposal. Fire prevention measures in urban areas enable people to light fire's using approved incinerators (not 40 gallon drums), barbecues, and traditional cooking fires (i.e. Hangi), without a fire permit. This is providing that fires are not lit at night and safeguards are taken to prevent the risk of fire spreading and smoke nuisance.
Fires must be supervised at all times and equipment must be on hand to extinguish the fire if it gets out of control. Care needs to be taken to ensure that ashes are properly extinguished otherwise they could be re-ignited by the wind. Only gas barbecues and traditional cooking may be lit in rural areas without a permit but due care must still be taken.
Prohibited Fire Season (Total Fire Ban)
A total fire ban is only declared where extreme weather and high fire danger conditions prevail. No permits will be issued during this period and therefore no fires are permitted.
Permitted activities in a restricted or prohibited season are:
- Gas-operated barbecue.
- Charcoal barbecue within the confines of an occupied residential property.
- A special permit may be obtained for a hangi or umu.
How Do I Obtain a Permit?
Permits to burn during a restricted fire season are issued by Rural Fire Officers and may be subject to additional requirements imposed by them. These permits generally apply to the burning of grass, scrub and other vegetation for essential agricultural and industrial purposes. Contact a Council Rural Fire Officer on 07 873 4000 or send email for further information.
Permits for lighting fires for other purposes, for example industrial burning and cutting, must be obtained from a Council Rural Fire Officer but may be subject to consents from Environment Waikato.
Even though you receive a permit and comply with the conditions, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extinguish it, and can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances (see section below)
Note: These permits are NOT VALID during a TOTAL FIRE BAN.
If you wish to light a fire within 1km of a Department of Conservation reserve, you must obtain a permit from DoC, who operate under a Restricted Fire Season all year. Contact the Rural Fire Officer at the Dept of Conservation Te Kuiti on 07 878 1050
Likewise people wishing to light a fire in the vicinity of the Pumicelands RFD should discuss with the principal Rural Fire Officer for Pumicelands phone: 07 349 2295
Rural Fire Safety and Prevention
- Ensure trees and tree limbs are kept pruned and well away from homes.
- Plant trees clear of powerlines and keep gutters clear.
- Keep the grass mown around your home.
- Dispose of cigrarettes carefully
- Plant less flammable native tree species near your home.
- Have a family plan for escaping your home.
- Install smoke alarms for early detection.
- Rural homes know your RAPID number and ensure that it can be seen clearly from the road.
- Have a hose attached to your water tap.
- Report any suspicious activities.
- Remove vegetation from accessways that may prevent emergency services from reaching you.
- Dial 111 for fire.
- Ensure everyone evacuates the house.
- Dont go back into a burning structure.
- Stay away from vegetation fire.
You need to be aware that the cost of fighting fires on rural land could be passed on to the landowner, or the person who caused the fire.
There are powers in place under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 to recover the fire fighting costs of fires.
Council policy is to recover costs wherever possible. Each case is considered on merits.
Some recreational groups have fire suppression insurance cover for their members in case they cause a fire. It would be worthwhile to find out whether the group that you belong to has insurance cover for this purpose, or to join a group that does provide this cover.
In addition families may wish to speak with their insurance company and seek, in addition to the household insurance, coverage for the cost of fire fighting for a fire caused by family members in a rural area.
The cost of fighting fires in rural areas is passed on to the individuals responsible and have run from $10,000 to more than $250,000 a day depending on the equipment used and duration of fire fighting.
Individuals involved in causing fires can also be prosecuted in terms of the Rural Fire legislation.