Burning advice for high country farmers

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Burning advice for high country farmers

High country and hill farmers in Canterbury who have consents from ECan allowing them to burn during September are being asked to contact Fire and Emergency NZ first to ensure fires are managed safely during Level 3 lockdown.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Rob Hands says that fire is an important land management tool and many farmers will need to complete controlled burns this month so they can resow their land.

"We understand that high country and hill farmers have a limited window when they are allowed to burn. This is a completely different situation than landowners just wanting to burn greenwaste or other material - in those cases we still ask people to wait until Canterbury is back in Level 2."

Mr Hands says he and his fellow Principal Rural Fire Officers will be able to advise farmers on how to set and manage controlled fires so they don’t escape and require brigades to break their bubble to put them out.

Principal Rural Fire Officer Bruce Janes also asks hill and high country farmers to contact the fire communications centre on the day so that the managed burns can be logged. This will avoid brigades being called out needlessly if members of the public report seeing smoke.

Farmers in other parts of Canterbury, and property owners in general, are asked to wait until the region is back in alert level 2 before they light fires on their property, even where these would comply with ECan’s clean air rules.

"This will help our firefighters stay safe in their bubbles," Bruce Janes says. Brigades will always turn out to 111 calls and have the protective gear and procedures to do this safely. "We’re just trying to avoid unnecessary call-outs, particularly for our volunteer firefighters at this time."

Properties under 2ha in size are not permitted to have outdoor fires anywhere under Canterbury, under ECan’s rules.