Fire ban off but caution urged

by Andy Bryenton

What has been an extended and lengthy fire ban season has, at last, come to an end for the Kaipara, with the situation changing to ‘fire by permit only’ status this past week. 

However, firefighters urge extreme caution due to the underlying dry conditions, which have seen regional water restrictions remain high despite lashings of patchy rain.  

With record dry months behind us, fire authorities are taking the permit issue seriously, even as the step down from Covid-19 level three to two looms. At level two it will be possible for site inspections to be undertaken and hence permits to be more easily issued, augmenting the information, which can be gained from Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s own permit website firepermit.nz. 

A worst-in-80-years drought has seen the fire ban stretch from January 13 to the end of April in the Kaipara district, meaning that many locals are very keen to light fires in the open air to destroy green waste. However, firefighters, including Principal Rural Fire Officer Myles Taylor, still urge people to consider delaying non-essential fires, both for reasons of the underlying dry conditions and the water shortage. During the fire ban, more than 100 illicit blazes were responded to throughout the north, with some fires threatening property and lives.

“We ask that you continue to hold off lighting any non-essential outdoor fires, so firefighters don’t have to respond to a preventable call. It is not essential to burn that rubbish and garden waste right now, so please be patient and wait until it is safe to do so.”  

If it’s a necessity to burn off waste, get that permit first, and inform the neighbours, as mistaken ‘good samaritan’ calls about suspicious smoke can often tie up firefighting resources when a long fire ban like this one draws to an end.