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Fire - Rural and Urban

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Our rural fire banner, high country

Fire and Emergency NZ has advised that the Selwyn district is in an Open Fire Season.

words saying rural fire permit

You can also talk to someone at FENZ: 0800 658 628
You can also ask FENZ any questions about permits by email: firepermit.enquiry@fireandemergency.nz.

Burning and rural fire in Selwyn district

What is Selwyn District Council responsible for?

Selwyn District Council used to be responsible for rural fire management in the district.  Following the merger of rural and urban fire services on 1 July 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is now responsible for rural firefighting. In the rural environment, the local management is provided by the Christchurch/Selwyn Rural Fire District of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

The Council is currently responsible for complaints relating to vegetation on properties causing a fire hazard (FENZ will take over this responsibility from 1 July 2018). You can contact Selwyn District Council to make a complaint about fire hazard such as long grass on lawns or verges.

To make a complaint call the Council.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

On 1 July 2017, the Selwyn District Council Rural Fire Authority merged with the New Zealand Fire Service and other rural fire organisations to form Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).

FENZ is now responsible for all aspects of rural fire, including the issuing of permits.

During the transition of rural firefighting responsibilities from the Council to FENZ period (12 months commencing on 1 July 2017), the Council will provide support to FENZ for rural firefighting as requested.  This support might include access to ICT and radio networks, incident management team support, use of personnel etc.

Planning to light a fire?

If you intend to burn anything you must find out whether you need a permit. FENZ is responsible for issuing permits.  It’s really important to know what the fire season status is before you think about applying for a permit to burn.

The fire season status is determined by FENZ. A fire season is either Prohibited Fire Season, a Restricted Season or Open Season. Fire permits are required in a zone which is not in an Open Season status. Permits are not required in an Open Season zone but the responsibility for controlling the fire lies strictly with the person lighting the fire.

Check it’s alright before you light:

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has its own seasonal restrictions and permitting requirements. Even if your burning is within the Environment Canterbury rules, be sure to check if it’s an open, restricted or prohibited fire season at CheckItsAlright.

Hill and High Country burning

Hill and high country is land with a slope of more than 20 degrees and/or land that is more than 600 metres above sea level. Burning vegetation in the Canterbury hill and high country is allowed provided certain conditions are met. You must also provide Environment Canterbury with prior notice of your burn (at least 20 working days before burning) using this online hill and high country burning form. We’ll either confirm your intended burn meets the permitted activity criteria or inform you that a resource consent is required. Please follow Environment Canterbury’s Outdoor burning rules.

Outdoor burning and crop residue burning (stubble burning)

Stubble burning is allowed during the current Fire Season.

FENZ has made stubble burning an approved fire in the Selwyn area. This means that no permit is required for a stubble burning in an Open or Restricted Fire Season provided there is total compliance with the FENZ rules and Federated Farmers of New Zealand guidelines.

If Canterbury is in a Prohibited Fire Season, then Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) will consider permits for stubble burning on a case-by-case basis.

Under Environment Canterbury’s Air Regional Plan, anyone carrying out stubble burning must fill out a smoke management plan.

Although stubble burning is an approved activity FENZ says that if you’re concerned about any smoke coming from a fire, you should call 111 and report it.

Some basic safety guidelines which must be observed:

  • people must be careful to avoid lighting fires when strong or moderate winds are  occurring or are forecast
  • all crop stubble fires may only be lit during daylight and must be out by dark
  • the fire must be supervised at all times
  • a fire break of no less than five metres in place is required around the area to be burned
  • suitable equipment must also be available to extinguish a fire
  • inform neighbours of the date/time of the stubble burn.

Want to report a fire that looks out of control?

To report an emergency please call 111

See lots of smoke coming from a rural fire?

For smoke pollution complaints please contact Environment Canterbury's Pollution Hotline - 0800 765 588.  However, if you consider the fire is out of control and has the potential to threaten life or property, you should call 111 immediately.

Remember: Crop residue burning (stubble burning) is common in rural parts of Selwyn at certain times of the year, and these fires can generate smoke. Just because there is smoke coming from a fire in a paddock, it does not necessarily mean that it is not a permitted activity.

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