Welcome to the official website of the Northern South Island Regional Rural Fire Committee.
So far this season, fire danger conditions have been rising with periods of hotter windier weather. Soil moisture on a regional basis is low after a drier than normal winter. Spring and early summer rainfall has led to an abundance of grass growth across the region. This grass growth must now be managed by mowing or grazing to ensure it does not become a fire problem over summer.
Recently there have been a number of smaller rural fires in the region and these serve as a warning to us all to be vigilant as summer is only just starting. Most of these fires are from flare ups from earlier fires or recent fires not properly extinguished.
Most fire authorities have been in an open fire season to date but it is likely that several authorities will put fire restrictions in place before the Christmas break. For your own fire season status situation, check with your local council.
Remember, fire prevention is the responsibility of us all. If you notice any uncontrolled fire , ring 111 immediately.
Presently the grasses are changing with the summer weather and as exotic grasses go to seed. The scrub and forest vegetation fuels are around normal for this time of the year.
The key objective at this point is to keep on top of this vegetation growth by mowing or cutting before it dries off, especially around houses and buildings. It is bound to get drier as summer progresses and keeping on top of the growth now will help eliminate a dangerous fuel source for fires later in the season. Try and maintain a mown grass area--green if possible--clear of trees and shrubs to act as a defensible space around all buildings.
Check Old Fires
Windthrow material and logging debris around the region which may have been burnt earlier in the year can be a source of fuel for any future fires. Please check any earlier fires to ensure they are definitely extinguished and won't re-ignite in dry windy summer conditions.
Another issue at present, particularly for farmers and contractors, with haymaking well under way, is to ensure that the hay is properly dried before baling. Hay with too high a moisture content, once stored in a stack or haybarn, is in danger of overheating and igniting through spontaneous combustion. These fires are difficult to extinguish and often lead to not only the loss of the hay but also the barn and stored machinery as well.
Farmers & Contractors
Farmers and contractors are also reminded to check tractors and other farm machinery for bird’s nests daily prior to their use. Starlings in particular like warm , dry enclosed areas to nest in and can build a nest in minutes. Checking for bird’s nests should be part of the machines normal daily maintenance. It is good practice to check for nests each time before a tractor or machine is started. The effect of a fire starting from a bird’s nest can be costly and disruptive. It is also useful to check and clear vegetation and debris build up in machinery and when being used it is good practice to carry a suitable fire extinguisher and have a cell phone on hand for any emergency communication.
Fire restrictions are likely to be put in place by local councils prior to the Christmas break. Please check with your local council before considering lighting any fire in the open air as they could be restricted or prohibited. Remember, if you light a fire you are responsible for any damage it causes and possibly liable for fire fighting costs as well . Talk to your insurer to make sure your property has public liability and fire suppression.
For the latest fire restrictions, visit the National Rural Fire Authority website »
Prevention is the best weapon against fire
The fire danger for Canterbury is going to be high later this summer and likely to reach very high or extreme at times.
The Northern South Island Regional Rural Fire Committee has a simple message for the public; “fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.”
“Fires cost lives and destroy property and if you light a fire you may be held responsible,” “Almost all fires are easily avoidable, make sure you do all you can to prevent them.”
The committee asks everyone, whether they are at home or in the back country over the hot summer months, to strictly adhere to any fire restrictions and be aware of the fire danger. Fire seasons are advertised by local rural fire authorities who are responsible for issuing any permits and enforcing total fire bans. Even with a permit, a person lighting a fire can be held responsible and liable for any damage it may cause and the costs to put it out.
“The costs of fighting fires in rural areas passed on to the individual responsible have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“As well as tragic loss of life or property, people should be mindful that uncontrolled fires can also devastate our natural areas which may never fully recover.”
“Let’s work together to keep our rural communities and resources safe.”
To see how you can help reduce the fire risk at your place, go to the link on practical fire safety tips
Download full-size pdf (177 kB)
Fire exercise 2016