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Permits needed for all but gas fires

Permits needed for all but gas fires

A restricted fire season for the whole of the Gisborne District will be declared on Monday (20 December 2010) to manage the risk of significant fires.

The district is gearing up for a large influx of visitors over the next few weeks says principal rural fire officer René Londeman and the soil continues to dry out as temperatures increase. “These add up to an extreme fire risk especially in some areas that are very dry. We have had some rain but not enough to stop the underlying drought. It makes sense to declare a restricted fire season now rather than in the middle of statutory holidays when permits can not be issued.”

A restricted fire season means a permit from the Gisborne District Council is needed before any fires can be lit. This applies to hangis and umus. Only gas barbecues and gas cookers are exempt. Families and marae wanting to cater for guests with hangi should apply for a permit now.

If people light a fire without a permit they face fines of up to $2000.

“By issuing a permit we have a record of where fires will be lit and can make sure that the conditions are right so that it can burn safely. This can make all the difference over the busy summer season,” Mr Londeman said.

“Those who light fires in the open are responsible for making sure the fires are safe and do not spread. Even if you light a fire with a permit or use a gas barbecue, it’s still your responsibility if it gets out of hand. If the fire has to be extinguished by the fire service or rural fire crew, you will be charged. This can be up to $20,000 under the Local Government Act.

“Fires should never be lit when conditions are windy, or strong winds are forecast,” he said. “In these conditions a small fire can spread very rapidly. In isolated parts of the district, an awful lot of damage occurs while waiting for help to arrive.”

Issuing a permit is not automatic it depends whether the fire can burn safely. The Gisborne District Council acting as a Rural Fire Authority issues permits. It can take up to three days to check applications, particularly if a site inspection is required. Mr Londeman urges people to think ahead if they plan to have a fire, hangi or umu. Permits can be applied for on the Council’s website www.gdc.govt.nz or from Customer Service in Fitzherbert Street or Te Puia Springs.

ENDS

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