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Fire in Rural Areas

Pursuant to the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 rural fire authorities are responsible for the prevention, detection, control, restriction, suppression and extinction of fire in rural areas.

Who fights the fires in rural areas?

The Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority incorporates the accountabilities and responsibilities of the Marlborough District Council, the Department of Conservation and the Kaikoura District Council in accordance with the Act.

The Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority is responsible for the provision of fire administration and prevention and is required to respond to and extinguish all out of control fires within their jurisdiction.

In most instances the nearest fire service brigade will respond to fires in rural areas, both structure and vegetation. At the same time the rural fire authority who is responsible under the Act will be advised and a rural fire officer may choose to attend and take over control of the incident.

Who pays for fighting fires in rural and urban areas?

The responsibility for fires in rural areas is different from urban areas. The costs of extinguishing a vegetation fire in a rural area can be recovered from the persons responsible for causing the fire.

The costs of fighting fires in rural areas recovered from individuals found responsible for causing the outbreak of fire to date range from $1,000 to $250,000.

Attendance at structure and property fires in rural areas is free of charge

Good Burning Practices

To minimise air pollution and nuisance effects from smoke it is important that good burning practices are adopted. The attached information sheets promote good burning practice.

PDF Document.Rural Burning Guide (213 Kb)

PDF Document.Burning Viticulture (182 Kb)

Fire Seasons

In rural areas there are three different types of fire seasons:

  • Open fire season 
    This means that a fire permit is not required to light a fire in the open air.
  • Restricted fire season
    This means that a fire permit is required at all times before lighting a fire in the open air.
  • Prohibited fire season
    This means that the lighting of all fires is totally banned including both rural and urban areas. All current fire permits will automatically be revoked.

For information on the current fire season and how to apply for a permit see Fire Permits.

Fire Safety Tips is Rural Areas

  • Install smoke alarms in your home and ensure they are all working.
  • Live in a safety zone by ensuring any dead or flammable plants and trees are removed and replaced with low flammable species around your home.
  • Store firewood and other flammable materials away from your house.
  • Isolate flammable liquids.
  • Dispose of ashes from your domestic fire safely in a metal container. Hot ashes can be blown in the wind and cause fires. Ashes need to be cold before disposal.
  • Keep the grass green by mowing and grazing around your home.
  • Ensure your property is clearly signposted with your RAPID rural identification number.
  • Ensure the driveway has a minimum clearance of 4 metres wide x 4 metres high to enable easy access by fire appliances.
  • Bridges on access driveways to your property need to be capable of carrying 14 tonnes.
  • Ensure easy access to water supplies and make sure they are signposted.
  • Maintain machinery and equipment in good working order.
  • Mowers and tractors do cause fires in Marlborough. Do not mow on days when the fire risk is extreme and in particular during the hottest part of the day.
  • Have an escape plan for your home and ensure all members of your family are familiar with your plan.

PDF Document.Rural Fire and You (135 Kb)

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