Do I need a permit to light a fire in the open air in Opotiki?
Yes. All outdoor fires, apart from gas barbecues and properly constructed incinerators, require a permit.
How do I get a permit?
Open air fires are managed by Pumicelands Rural Fire Authority (Pumicelands).
Apply online for a Fire Permit now: pumicelands.co.nz
Is it an offence not to get a permit?
Yes. Failure to obtain a permit for a fire is an offence against the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
If I have a permit am I responsible if my fire gets out of control?
Yes. Even if you have a permit you are still responsible for a fire that spreads and causes damage. A fire permit is not a legal defence against claims for damage caused by a fire.
If you start a fire that gets out of control and damages someone else's property, you're responsible for the cost of repairing any damage. If the fire authority and/or the fire service is called out you may have to pay their suppression costs too.
Reporting dangerous fires - If you see smoke or fire and you think it looks threatening, dial 111 for the fire service.
What are the conditions for granting a fire permit?
The decision whether or not to issue a fire permit will be based on the following factors:
(a) Fire ground conditions (subject to the type and size of fire proposed in each case):
- The current fire season status
- Fire ground location, topography and vehicle accessibility
- The type and size of fire proposed i.e. garden bonfire, general rubbish fire or large-scale land clearance, stubble or scrub burn off etc.
- The fuel type, volume and combustibility
- The fire grounds exposure to wind
- Prevailing weather conditions and long-term weather forecast
- The location, size and condition of any fire breaks
- The onsite availability of water, fire fighting and earthmoving equipment.
(b) The presence of potential fire hazards near the proposed fire ground:
- Trees, scrub, gorse, grass
- Buildings including houses, sheds, barns or other buildings
- Stored animal fodder e.g. haystacks
- Overhead wired electrical and telephone services
- Communication stations, structures or installations e.g. television, cell phone or radio towers or buildings
- Underground and/or aboveground gas or fuel storage installations
- Other fire districts in close proximity.
In some cases a site safety inspection may need to be undertaken before a fire permit is issued.
What should I consider before lighting my fire?
Before lighting any fire always consider your neighbours and check the current weather conditions.
Do not create:
- Air and environmental pollution
- Smoke hazards
- Ash or odour nuisance
- Potential fire hazards.
Instead of burning:
- Use the local Resource Recovery Centres at Opotiki, Te Kaha and Waihau Bay
- Use Council's recycling collection service in the urban area of Opotiki
- Mulch or compost waste vegetation
- Deliver recyclable items and materials to the Resource Recovery Centres.
What are the different fire seasons in Opotiki District?
There are two fire seasons in Opotiki District. The fire seasons are based on the prevailing fire risk as follows:
- Restricted Fire Season - applies at all times unless a Total Fire Ban is declared. A Restricted Fire Season requires a fire permit for all open-air fires.
- Total Fire Ban - all existing fire permits are cancelled, no new fire permits will be granted, and all open-air fires, bonfires and fireworks are prohibited during the term of this ban.
There is no open fire season where fires may be lit without a fire permit.
What is the current fire season status?
A Restricted fire season currently applies throughout the Opotiki District fire area.
Are there special requirements for land clearing?
Yes. You must prepare a written burn plan for all land clearing and burn off permit applications before a permit will be granted.
The plan must:
- Include a map of the fire ground showing the location of all access roads or tracks, water supplies, potentially vulnerable assets and firefighting equipment.
- Clearly identify the person who will be responsible for controlling and managing the burn on site and provide their name and contact details.
- Detail how the fire will be lit e.g. from a helicopter or by persons on foot etc.
- Clearly explain how the fire will be monitored and managed.
- List the on site communication equipment, services and/or procedures.
- Identify how potentially vulnerable assets, e.g. buildings, electricity, gas, telephone, telephone, television facilities, will be protected.
- List the fire fighting resources available on site during the burn. This is to include fire ground personnel, helicopter/s, water tankers, water supply, earthmoving machinery, and fire fighting appliances, equipment etc.
- List the notifications that will be made prior to light up e.g. advise the neighbours, Rural Fire Officer, New Zealand Fire Service, the owners of potentially vulnerable assets etc.
- Detail the post fire procedures for ensuring the fire is properly extinguished and confirmed as being out at the completion of burning each day.
Will any old drum do as an incinerator?
No. You must always use an incinerator that is specifically designed and constructed for rubbish burning.
Old drums are generally not suitable unless they have been specially adapted as an incinerator.
Your incinerator should have:
- A grate system to allow a free flow of air through the incinerator to aid burning
- A cover to contain the burning material
- A spark arrester to prevent the escape of sparks and embers.
Your incinerator should be cleaned out regularly to remove ashes and unburnt material. This will ensure clean burning and deter vermin and other pests.
Safely dispose of incinerator waste.
Does a Rural Fire Officer have the right to extinguish my fire?
Yes. If a fire is unauthorised or unsafe Rural Fire Officers and the New Zealand Fire Service are authorised to extinguish any open air fire:
- During any Restricted Fire Season where no fire permit has been issued for that fire
- During a Total Fire Ban Season where no special fire permit has been issued for that fire
- Found burning in breach of a fire permit condition
- That is unsafe or is a potential danger to property or persons
- If the smoke from your fire is causing issues with your neighbour.
The cost of extinguishing such fires may be recovered from the land occupier or person who lit the fire.