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Annual Restricted Fire Season is coming

23 Nov 2015

With the aim of keeping the Waitomo District safer around fires during the summer, Waitomo District Council is introducing a fixed restricted fire season aligning with the Otorohanga District Council. 

While we are not removing the option to burn rubbish and garden waste we do encourage people to instead choose the much safer and environmentally friendly option of taking the rubbish to your nearest transfer station (PDF 45 KB) where it can be safely disposed of.

Forecasters predict that a severe El Nino weather pattern over summer will bring dry weather and strong winds. This will cause vegetation to dry-out increasing the potential for fires.

Restricted Fire Season

Council’s Restricted Fire Season for open fires starts midnight on 11 January 2016 and finishes on 31 March 2016

The season may begin earlier or be extended if dry weather conditions continue to develop. 

Anyone lighting an open air fire which include - campfires, cooking fires, braziers, rubbish fires (including 44 gallon drums and rubbish pits), controlled burns and prescribed burns - must obtain a Fire Permit from Waitomo District Council.

Anyone lighting an open air fire which include - campfires must obtain a permit from WDC 

We may need to undertake an inspection of the site prior to issuing a permit so please ensure that your application is lodged at least three working days prior to the date you intend on lighting the fire. 

There is no cost associated with obtaining a permit from WDC. 

Stay safe over summer

We all have a responsibility to be alert of the risk of fire in rural areas across the Waitomo District and to take precautions.

The damage and expense of fighting fires and repairing property is substantial. If you cause a fire, you can be charged for the cost of fighting the fire plus any loss to property affected by the fire.

Bonfires on the beach can look good in the movies but there a numerous safety hazards associated with this activity.  Road conditions and limited access to areas may result in longer response times for emergency and fire services.

Before lighting an open fire you should always consider the following issues:

  1. Are you insured? Fires can cause financial and material losses. If you are unsure if you are covered by your insurance policy, contact your insurance provider.
  2. Is a permit required? If you are unsure if a permit is required, contact Waitomo District Council on 0800 932 4357.
  3. Are the weather conditions suitable for lighting a fire? Strong winds can carry sparks for a considerable distance increasing the risk of fire.
  4. Is the intended fire adequately separated from other surrounding combustible materials (firewood) and property? Various types of vegetation and materials will burn quickly – not just bone-dry ‘brown’ vegetation;
  5. Fires should never be left unattended – a change in wind direction or other unexpected behaviour can occur. Supervise children at all times.
  6. Fires should not be ignited or have a naked flame visible during the hours of darkness.
  7. Is there sufficient access to your property for large fire fighting vehicles? Ensure that access tracks are maintained so that a fire appliance can quickly respond to a fire.
  8. Signposting your property. Rural property numbers are invaluable for a quick response by emergency vehicles.

Residents are also urged to regularly monitor the fire season as well as maintain their occupied (or unoccupied) section by removing any combustible material, therefore reducing the risk of fire spreading onto (or from) your property. 

Further advice on vegetation fires or to apply for a Fire Permit, please contact:

David Brown
Principal Rural Fire Officer
Phone: 027 233 2152 

About the fire season/ status
There are three fire seasons: open, restricted and prohibited.
1. Open - No, you will not need a permit.
2. Restricted - Yes, you will need a permit.
3. Prohibited - Total ban on lighting fire. Existing permits are cancelled.

*If you have a permit and the fire season becomes prohibited, your permit will be cancelled. You cannot light open fires if it is a prohibited fire season.