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Ten Tips To Cut Farm Fire Risk

22 December 2003

PR 265/03

Ten Tips To Cut Farm Fire Risk

Keeping grass low, storing firewood and hay away from homes, and ensuring easy access in and out of farms can reduce the risk of fire devastating rural communities, said John Aspinall, rural fire spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"Summer is obviously when fire dangers are at their worst; especially after long spells of dry weather. But it is also when thousands of visitors head to the country, camping, lighting fires and further increasing the risk of fire. A carelessly discarded cigarette can cause millions of dollars of damage.

"The recent large scrub fire west of Christchurch destroyed one home and threatened others and showed the dangers of blazes raging out of control on windy days after a spell of dry weather.

"Farms are both businesses and places to live. Livelihoods are jeopardised if families lose houses, or farm buildings. Fires in rural areas can take longer to be noticed than in urban areas, so this increases the importance of minimising the ability of fire to spread before it can be fought.

"Remember, the cost of fighting a rural fire, even one started unintentionally, is put 100 percent on to the farmer, so it literally pays to be careful. With so many visitors to rural areas at this time of year, farmers need to manage risks. The Federation has compiled ten tips for farmers to help avoid fires and ensure they can be put out quickly" said Mr Aspinall.


1. Keep grass levels low by mowing or grazing;

2. Keep a good water supply, and leave hoses attached to the supply;

3. Grow green, less flammable plants around farm houses and outbuildings;

4. Ensure that your property is well signposted with a rapid number;

5. Remove dry, flammable leaves from spouting, and prune and remove tree branches, especially dead ones, hanging over buildings;

6. Keep fire wood away from farm houses and other buildings;

7. Do not burn rubbish in the open air if fire restrictions are in place.

8. Ensure your property is easily accessible by large trucks with adequate turning space;

9. Take extra care using equipment such as welding gear and mowers which could spark around grass. Have a fire extinguisher handy. Ensure vehicle exhausts are not sparking.

10. Allow for portable pumps to be positioned within seven metres of water supplies.


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