Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand
All of Southland is now in a restricted fire season.
The change occurred at 8am Wednesday 26 January 2022, and means anyone planning to light an open-air fire will need to apply for and obtain a permit.
Southland District Manager, Julian Tohiariki says the current conditions are the reason for the change.
“A wet spring-early summer means there is plenty of available fuel for fire around Southland,” he says.
“Recent cooler conditions have eased fire dangers, but fuels remain dry and a fire could easily start and spread.”
In addition, as of 8am January 26 January, there is a ban on using solid fuel and charcoal barbeques at Sandy Point from the Dunns Road Bridge over the Oreti River including Sandy Point Reserve, Fosbender Park and private land through to Foveaux Street (north end of Oki street).
This restriction order is in place until further notice using Section 52 of the Fire and Emergency Act. Section 52 allows Fire and Emergency to prohibit or restrict certain activities, such as the use of solid fuel and charcoal barbeques. Gas barbecues are allowed as they pose a lower fire risk.
“By putting these restrictions in place we are trying to keep you, your whanau, and your friends safe this season,” he says.
Julian Tohiariki says care should also be taken with anything that may cause a spark.
“This includes recreational vehicles such as motorbikes. Hot exhausts touching dry grass could be just enough to start a fire,” he says.
“People can help firefighters enjoy their summer too by taking steps to ensure their fires are under control.
“Even if you have a permit, we expect anyone planning on lighting a fire to check the conditions. If it’s hot and windy, please hold off lighting a fire,” he says.
When lighting a fire there are a few things you can do to keep safe and prevent it from getting out of control.
“Ensure vegetation is at least 30 meters away and on the downwind side of any hedges, trees, fences, buildings or other combustible material. The greater the distance the safer the burn,” says Julian Tohiariki.
“Check the forecast and make sure there are no strong winds forecast for the next two days. Wind is one of the biggest factors we see with out of control fires in Southland, often fanning fires back into life days or weeks after they have been put out.”
“Keep checking on their fires even once they’re out. Go back and make sure your burn pile is cold. Rake out the fire, wet it down and ensure all material is cold to touch. This will prevent the fire from reigniting,” he says.