Rural home fire safety checklist

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Rural home fire safety checklist

Live rurally and want to make sure your home is fire safe? Here’s a quick and easy checklist you can use to spot any risks or hazards that might cause a fire.

Walk through each part of your house and check off each point as you go. If a point doesn't apply to you (for example, if you don't have a fireplace), give it a tick.

This checklist is for people who own a house in a rural area.

To reduce the risk of fire in your home and nearby vegetation, you first need to assess your home and garden for potential hazards. Use the table below to identify what you can do to prevent and prepare for fire inside and outside your home and in your garden.

Outside and inside the home

PART OF THE HOME

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REDUCING THE RISK OF FIRE

Roof

  • Remove overhanging branches
  • Remove branches within 3 metres of your chimney
  • Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters
  • Consider installing spark-arrestor mesh in chimneys

Windows

  • Clear thick vegetation within 10 metres of windows
  • Consider double-glazing in windows that face large areas of vegetation
  • Limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation
  • Consider solid shutters made of non-flammable material

Eaves, vents and openings

  • Cover the outside attic and under-floor vents with corrosion-resistant, 3mm wire mesh
  • Cover eaves, attic and under-floor with solid, non-flammable, protective shutters
  • Have inside access to attics and crawlspaces to put out spot fires that may occur

Balconies, decks and porches

  • Build balconies and deck surfaces with non-combustible materials
  • Enclose eaves, balconies and undersides of overhangs with 12mm non-flammable sheathing
  • Build stilts from non-combustible material – heavy timbers are best

Inside your home

  • Install multipurpose dry powder extinguishers in the house and outbuildings
  • Install smoke alarms and make sure they are clean and working
  • Install an internal domestic sprinkler system

Kitchen

 

  • Keep the stovetop clean and free of any spilled fats or burnt foods.
  • Clean rangehood filters regularly cleaned.
  • Make sure there's a fire extinguisher near the kitchen and you know how to use it.

 

The garden

Make sure emergency services can get to you in an emergency

To reduce the risk of fire in your garden, establish priority zones around your home. Priority zones are areas around your home will help reduce the risk of fire damaging or destroying your home.

 

Use the table below as a guide to landscaping your garden.

PRIORITY ZONE

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REDUCING THE RISK OF FIRE

Priority zone 1

Create a defensible space or safety zone around your home.

Establish lawns, paths, drives and cultivated soil between buildings and flammable vegetation

Saw or prune all dead or dried up branches, twigs and leaves from existing vegetation, and remove

Compost, mulch or remove any section or yard waste materials

Convert remaining vegetation to less fire-prone species

Thin and prune vegetation away from the immediate area of your home

Store firewood, building material or other combustible debris piles away from your home – at least 10 metres during the fire season

Priority zones 2 and 3

Create environments that will not support high intensity fires.

  • Remove dead or dying trees
  • Prune all large trees and remove all branches at least 2 metres from the ground
  • Remove trees and overhanging limbs that are close to power lines
  • Get rid of pruning waste promptly
  • Replace highly flammable plants with those that are less flammable