Rural / Urban Fires

A Prohibited Fire Season for all of the Southern Fire District was declared on Monday. 

The ban means no one can light any fires in the open and also suspends all existing fire permits.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Principal Rural Fire Officer, Elton Smith, says existing fires must be put out.

“People with piles of debris still burning should be looking to extinguish these immediately. The only exception to the ban is for gas barbecues,” he says.

The fire ban also applies to all townships within the Southland and Gore districts, and includes Invercargill city.

It prohibits people in these places from burning rubbish, using incinerators, or cooking outdoors with open braziers or hangis.

“There is potential across the province for significant wildfires to occur, so the ban has been imposed for safety reasons”.

The entire Southland province is experiencing a run of warm and dry weather. Consequently, all areas are particularly dry with large areas of grassland drying rapidly.

Dry and dead vegetation creates more fuel for fires making them more intense and firefighting more difficult and dangerous.

Fire and Emergency advises caution around activities which may produce sparks such as lawn mowing, chainsaw use and grinding, as a spark could start a fire. 

  • Consider if the activity should be undertaken at all.  Early morning when conditions are cooler and a dew is present will reduce the risk.
  • Maintain equipment and machinery to reduce the potential of sparks

Motorbikes, quad bikes, four wheel drives and other hot machinery also pose a risk.

  • Consider how dry the vegetation is when you intend to go.
  • Maintain the exhaust system on machinery
  • Do not leave machinery engines running while parked on dry flammable material
  • Carry a 9kg ABE dry powder fire extinguisher

Fires that are out

  • Check they are out
  • Turn the area over to ensure there is no heat left in the pile
  • Apply water and cool if any residual heat

Current fires

  • Extinguish them
  • Rake out, apply water and cool down

Thinking of lighting a fire

  • Don’t!

The Gore District Council is a member of Southern Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the organisation covering all aspects of fire and fire safety in rural Southland.

We also have a bylaw covering the prevention of vegetation fire in urban areas. Any fire season restrictions imposed on rural areas also have effect on our urban areas.

Current Status: Restricted fire season from Saturday 4 November until further notice

Fire permits

If you need a fire permit you can apply online or by phoning 0800 658 628.

Fire season rules

Restricted Fire Season – this means you will need a permit to light a fire in the open air.

There are some exemptions for zones A and B, which covers the majority of the Southern District. They are:

  • Solid Fuel BBQ
  • Braziers
  • Camp fires (50cm x 50cm to keep warm or cook on)
  • Hangi
  • Hedge trimmings (under 2 x 2m and burn out in a few hours).
  • Incinerators
  • Offal Hole

Prohibited Fire Season – this means only gas BBQ’s are permitted but be particularly vigilant. Everything else is not allowed.

Open Fire Season - this means you do not need a permit for a BBQ (including solid fuel ones like charcoal), incinerator, traditional cooking fire or open air fire (eg garden waste).

Fire safety hints

A fire is at all times the responsibility of the person who lit it so always take care and use common sense. Some useful rules are:

  • Have someone watch the fire at all times
  • Check the forecast and make sure no strong winds are forecast while you are burning
  • For a BBQ have at least five metres between you and other combustible material such as building, hedge or fence.
  • Don’t burn close to a public road as smoke may blow across the road obstructing traffic visibility. Alternatively make sure the wind is blowing away from the road.
  • Contact the phone and power provider if you are burning close to overhead power lines
  • Always have enough water on hand  in case things don’t go to plan
  • Make sure the fire is totally extinguished when you finish
  • If something goes wrong call 111

If you would like to apply for a fire permit or find out more about the current fire season status, please contact the Southern Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 0800 658 628, or visit its website.

Gore District Council 29 Bowler Avenue Gore P: 03 209 0330 E: info@goredc.govt.nz