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Early Season Bush Fires Raises Note of Caution

Early Season Bush Fires Raises Note of Caution

An early season burn-off that got out of control this week has Ruapehu District Council (RDC) Principal Rural Fire Officer, Nick Watson, warning about the dryness of vegetation around Ruapehu.

Mr Watson said that the vegetation and under growth is very dry for this time of the year and anyone planning a controlled burn-off needs to take all practical precautions.

“Even though the Ruapehu fire status is ‘open’ and no permit is required we would ask that anyone undertaking a burn-off keep council informed of their plans to help prevent the inadvertent call-out of emergency services,” he said.

“People should also note 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.”

Mr Watson added that 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.

“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.”

“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.”

“An out of control burn-off on Tuesday (9 Sept 14) in Piriaka required the use of a Taupo based helicopter with a monsoon bucket due to the difficultly of gaining access to the fire that was threatening houses along the top of the ridge.”

Mr Watson said that the Ruapehu Volunteer Rural Fire Force was joined by volunteer Fire Brigades from Manunui and Owhango in fighting the fire on the ground.

“Without volunteers such as these people our core rescue and emergency response services would not be able to operate.”

“Ruapehu covers a big area and we are almost wholly dependent on having volunteers located around the district to provide this vital public service to our rural communities.”

“RDC is always keen to hear from people who would like to find out more about being a rural fire fighting volunteer.”

“Anyone planning a rural open air fire, or who wants to know more about what is involved in becoming a rural volunteer fire fighter, can contact me via their nearest RDC office,” he said.


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