Before you do anything that may cause a fire, you should check the weather conditions and determine what the current Fire Season is for the Selwyn district. Visit the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) CheckItsAlright website to determine the Fire Season and to know the specific rules for your area:.
Climate change and the prevalence of wild fires
It’s likely that we will see more events like the Port Hills Fire in the future. Climate change will bring more extreme conditions which could cause fires, and we all need to be prepared. FENZ is increasing the resources it has available to fight fires, and increasing its community education about rural fires.
FENZ says New Zealanders need to start thinking like Australians in terms of adapting their lifestyles to take into account the wild fire threat. Rural and semi-rural communities also need to consider what they do to prevent fires, and protect themselves and their properties from them.
There are simple things people can do right now to protect themselves, and FENZ can help provide that advice.
What you can do to reduce fire risk
- Assess the risk of fire to your property. Have an escape plan for getting out of your house and off your property. Know where you’ll meet afterwards.
- Make sure fire appliances can get to you. Display your Rural Address Property Identification (RAPID) number or road/street number in a place that's clearly visible to emergency vehicles.
- Make sure fire trucks and large vehicles can access your property or water supply by clearing roads and driveways to at least four metres wide and four metres high. Appliances also need plenty of space to turn around. Clearly indicate any water supply for firefighting.
- Have a defendable space around your house and other structures – at least three metres. Keep grass low and plant that are less likely to catch fire and burn. Keep paddocks around farm buildings and yards are well grazed and not overgrown.
- Be careful with activities that can produce sparks such as lawn mowing, chainsaw use, grinding and using vehicles off road. If you are mowing or topping lawns or paddocks, use machinery in the early morning when conditions are cooler and a dew is likely present.
- Keep machinery well maintained to reduce potential sparks. Fit spark arresters and make sure belly pans and spaces around motors are free of oil, dust, grease, grass and straw. Check there are no birds’ nests in or around machinery.
- Keep trees and branches at least three metres clear of power lines. If they aren't, talk to your local power authority.
- Don’t store firewood against your house or structures, or under decks.
- If you’ve had a fire, check on it regularly. The bigger the fire, the longer embers will smoulder – fires can re-ignite weeks or even months later. Turn piles over and apply water to ensure there’s no heat left.
- Talk to your neighbours about what you can do together as a community to reduce fire risks.
On days when warning is in place for extreme fire weather
- Don't light outdoor fires.
- Winds will usually be strong and nor'west and/or the temperature will be high ('extreme').
- In these conditions it’s easy for older fires to re-ignite. If you light a fire it is your responsibility to ensure it has been fully extinguished. If you are unsure if a fire is fully extinguished, you should carefully check underneath any debris to see if any embers or heat still exists and douse this well with water or bury the embers.
- You should be careful when operating outdoor machinery, as if a spark is ignited the weather conditions will make it easy to spread and create a fire. You should have a hose connected which can reach the area where you are operating machinery or another method of extinguishing a fire.
Remember: If you light a fire without taking due care you could be liable for damage and fire-fighting costs if the fire escapes.
Mowing long grass during summer
Please take extreme care with any activities which could create sparks and start a fire. If you're mowing grass, do it during cooler conditions in the evening or early in the morning. General care should be taken with any motorised or power tools, ensuring that they are well maintained and not left where hot exhausts or working parts come into contact with dry vegetation.
Can I complain about long grass?
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is now responsible for investigating complaints relating to fire hazards. Make a complaint regarding long grass via the FENZ website.