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Council Asks To Be Advised Of All Rural Burn-Offs

Council Asks To Be Advised Of All Rural Burn-Offs

Ruapehu District Council (RDC) is asking farmers to notify them if they are planning a controlled burn-off even though the Ruapehu fire status is ‘open’ and no permit is required.

Ruapehu Rural Fire Officer, Nick Watson, said that keeping council informed of any burn-off plans helps to prevent the inadvertent call-out of emergency services.

“Since Christmas the rural fire service has been called out to three fires that turned out to be legitimate controlled burn-offs,” he said.

“In these cases the fires were all well controlled and the farmers had done everything right so they were an unnecessary call on our rural fire volunteers.”

“Ruapehu farmers are very good at contacting council when wanting to light a fire during ‘restricted’ periods, requesting permits and getting safety information and advice when clearing land or burning crop stubble.”

“It would be of real value to Ruapehu’s emergency services if people applied those same disciplines and gave us a quick call to advise us of their intentions anytime they are planning a controlled burn-off regardless of the fire status.”

Mr Watson noted that council provides safe fire practice advice for anyone planning an open air fire.

“We have an excellent range of fire safety brochures or alternatively people can contact us and arrange for a fire safety inspection on their property and the area they want cleared.”

“The on-site fire safety inspections and advice are provided at no cost,” he said.

“People need to be aware that the responsibility for fires in rural areas is different from urban areas in that you can be held personally liable for the costs associated with putting out an out-of-control fire in rural areas even if you have a fire permit.”

“The costs for putting out large rural fires can easily climb into six figure sums especially if helicopters are involved or the fire causes consequential damages to another business or property.”

“Farmers or other persons undertaking burn-offs should ensure that they have public liability insurance with specific fire suppression cover under sections 43 and 46 of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.”

Mr Watson added that when lighting any open air fire good planning and taking common sense precautions are essential.

“In addition to advising council of your burn-off plans these include ensuring that there is; at least three clear metres around any burn area to prevent the fire spreading, easy access to an adequate water supply, favourable weather conditions and there is clear access to the burn site.”

“The key rule to follow at any time is that if you are in any doubt then don’t burn,” he said.

“Anyone planning a rural open air fire can advise council via their nearest council office (Taumarunui 07 895 8188, Ohakune 06 385 8364, Raetihi 06 385 4447).

ends

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