Fire hazards in your community

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire hazards in your community

Fire safety is a community concern

Properties that are residential, industrial or agricultural, are on the urban–rural interface if they are next to vegetation, whether it is forest, scrubland, or in a rural setting. Properties in these areas are at a greater risk of wildfire due to the increased presence of nearby vegetation or other hazards.

People living in high risk interface areas need to take steps to make their property fire safe.  We have information in the following sections of our website to help with this:

If you think nearby properties pose a fire hazard talk first with the occupiers about how you can work together to minimise the risk.

Untidy, Overgrown Land and Local Council Responsibilities

Untidy, overgrown land can be an eyesore, but these overgrown areas may not necessarily be a fire hazard. If there is land near you which is untidy and overgrown, in the first instance, you should try to speak to the occupier or landowner. If this does not resolve the problem and the area presents a potential risk to health or safety; for example, if it provides a breeding ground for rats and other vermin, then you should contact your local council.

Fire hazard removal advice and assessment

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 has provisions to enable Fire and Emergency to intervene to ensure vegetation or other things which are causing a fire hazard are removed or destroyed.  Action can be taken to address serious, legitimate fire risks such as asking an owner or occupier of a property to voluntarily remove or destroy a fire hazard, through to issuing a formal notice requiring them to undertake that work. 

Fire and Emergency is only able to require an occupier or owner to remove or destroy a potential fire hazard when:

  • there is enough flammable material on the land to support a fire spreading to another property
  • it is likely a fire will start (for example there is a recent history of fires in the area)
  • if a fire did start it is likely to endanger lives or significant property (e.g. multiple houses).

If you are unable to resolve a potential fire hazard directly with the owner/occupier, you can let us know about your concern by either completing this online form or calling the Fire Information Unit on 0800 347 346.

Our assessment process

Fire and Emergency personnel will assess the location of the potential fire hazard, using a combination of their knowledge, professional judgement and assessment criteria (outlined below) to identify a course of action.

Stage 1: Initial review

The assessor begins by reviewing the case and answering four key questions:

  1. Is the potential hazard either trees close to power lines, or hoarding inside a building?
  2. Is the material involved likely to pose a risk to life or property through ignition without spreading?
  3. Is there sufficient material of appropriate type and composition to support a fire spreading to adjacent property or values?
  4. Is the burning material likely to produce enough heat to cause damage to property?

The answers determine:

  • whether the hazard is outside our jurisdiction, e.g. health concerns of unsightly sections
  • the potential for the vegetation or other materials to cause harm or damage as a result of fire
  • the next course of action.

Stage 2: Risk assessment

The potential fire hazard risk is further evaluated, if required, and involves:

  • assessing the risk of a fire starting and its likely consequence. This determines the next course of action e.g. providing education and advice on how to reduce the risk, requesting that the fire hazard is voluntarily removed, or issuing a Fire Hazard Removal Notice.