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Hold off lighting outdoor fires during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Hold off lighting outdoor fires during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Posted April 02, 2020
Emergency Services

Hold off lighting outdoor fires during the COVID-19 Lockdown

People in Waihi are still lighting backyard fires to burn rubbish during the COVID-19 lockdown causing unnecessary stress for local volunteer firefighters.

Brian Gentil spoke to Chief Fire Officer Moe Stevens earlier in the week to find out what caused the sirens in town to go off 11 times.

The majority of the call outs were to backyard fires and Moe reminded the public the Waihi Fire & Rescue firefighters are all volunteers and each call puts them at risk by mixing in the public rather than staying out of trouble in their bubbles.

Steve Turek, Fire and Emergency National Manager Community Readiness and Recovery says, “I know we all want to get odd jobs done and clean up while we have more time at home but please do not burn unnecessary fires such as household rubbish or garden waste. Hold off applying for a permit for an outdoor fire until the lockdown is over.”

“We are asking for your patience and understanding during these extraordinary times in our country and asking that you do not light any outdoor fires unless they are absolutely necessary,” Steve Turek says.

“If you currently have a permit, or are planning to use fire for activities such as stubble burn-offs, please carefully review the conditions before lighting any fires.”

“Fire and Emergency NZ is receiving lots of phone calls from people wanting fire permits. While we are under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions we are unable to visit sites to review permit applications.

“We are understandingly reluctant to put the public and our people at risk to conduct inspections, and there will be cases where we cannot grant permits at this time.

“Lighting fires is likely to generate a 111 call from the public whether they are out of control or not. Call in prior to lighting any permitted burns so that we can limit the amount of “smoke chasing” that our brigades are doing.

“Consider alternatives to burning. The weather may feel cooler but there is still high risk of vegetation fires in some parts of the country.”

Steve Turek says New Zealanders can be confident that Fire and Emergency is well-prepared and ready to respond to emergencies as usual during the nationwide self- isolation period.

“Help us by doing your bit to minimise the risk of fire, and the number of avoidable call outs for our first responders.”Stay safe.”