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Clampdown on smoky fires


Clampdown on smoky fires

Thursday 7 April 2004

Light a smoky fire over Easter and you’re asking for trouble. And not just with the neighbours - it may well cost you a $300 fine, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Principal compliance officer, Andy Bruere, plans to clamp down hard on smoky fires after a rush of pollution calls that kept his staff busy around Tauranga all last weekend. In one incident, a fire of green citrus tree clippings had smoked out the congregation leaving a nearby church. Another call involved the fire brigade.

Mr Bruere says too many people are creating a smoke nuisance by burning freshly-cut garden waste or tree clippings. “They seem to have a total disregard for their neighbours,” he says. “It’s just not acceptable.”

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Tauranga staff receive an average of 10 smoke-related calls a week. “And that’s far too many. Every autumn it’s the same. People are not getting the message.”

Compact urban living is making the situation even worse, he explains. “When people burn fresh garden waste in the backyard incinerator, the smoke can easily drift next door. So the closer your neighbours are, the worse it gets.” Lifestyle blocks located near urban areas are also creating problems.

Mr Bruere wants people to mulch or compost green waste, or to take it to the nearest transfer station. If burning, they need to make sure the material is well dried out first. He advises burning in small amounts “so you can put the fire out if wind conditions change or if it gets too smoky”. Always consider wind direction and the effect of smoke on neighbours. “And don’t leave fires unattended, both for safety reasons and because it might start smoking.”

Also, make sure you check materials are safe to burn. Don’t burn plastic, rubber, tyres or any other waste known to produce black smoke. And be wary of treated timber as toxic material can enter the soil.

Smoke also hangs around longer on still, cold days, particularly in the morning. “The cool air above the land stops the smoke from rising and blowing away. That can cause problems for people living nearby so you really need to think about the impact of your fire on others.”

If you have a problem with a neighbour’s smoke, talk to them about it, Mr Bruere says.


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