Fires in the Open Air
This page provides information on the permit requirements and restrictions on the lighting of bonfires, rubbish fires, incinerators and open air cooking fires i.e. hangi and umu in Porirua City.
A fire permit is required to light a fire in the open air
Open air fires are managed by Porirua City using a fire permit process.
This is based on two city zones to comply with legislative requirements:
- Urban Zone: This includes all residential, commercial and industrial land
- Rural Zone: This includes all rural zoned areas of the city
Fire permits are issued in the urban zone under Council's bylaw and in the rural zone in accordance with the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
Be a good neighbour
Do not create:
- Air and environmental pollution
- Smoke hazards
- Ash or odour nuisance
- Potential fire hazards
Instead of burning:
- Use the Broken Hill landfill tip
- Use Council's recycling collection service
- Use the household rubbish collection service for small amounts of garden rubbish
- Mulch or compost waste vegetation
- Deliver recyclable items and materials to the recycling station and Trash Palace at the landfill tip
Fire seasons in Porirua City
Council operates a two fire season process for controlling fires in its district.
The fire seasons are based on the prevailing fire risk as follows:
- Restricted Fire Season - This applies at all times unless a Total Fire Ban is declared. A Restricted Fire Season requires a Fire Permit for all open-air fires.
- Total Fire Ban - Under a Total Fire Ban, all existing fire permits are cancelled, no new fire permits will be granted, and all open-air fires, bonfires and fireworks are prohibited during the term of this ban.
- There is no open fire season where fires may be lit without a fire permit.
Unauthorised and unsafe fires may be extinguished
Council's bylaw authorises Council Officers and the New Zealand Fire Service to extinguish any open air fire:
- During any Restricted Fire Season where no Fire Permit has been issued for that fire
During a Total Fire Ban Season where no Special Fire Permit has been issued for that fire
Found burning in breach of a Fire Permit condition
That is unsafe or is a potential danger to property or persons
The cost of extinguishing such fires may be recovered from the land occupier or person who lit the fire.
Current Fire Season status - Prohibited
A Prohibited Fire Season currently applies throughout the Porirua City district (from 8 March 2013).
You must obtain a Fire Permit for open air fires
You must apply in writing for a fire permit, which is required for all open air fires unless a Total Fire Ban is in force. The only exceptions to this are traditional cooking fires and properly constructed incinerators.
Fire permits are issued by specially warranted Council officers. Special fire permits may be issued for hangi and umu during a Total Fire Ban.
Conditions for granting a Fire Permit
Council officers will carry out a site safety inspection before a fire permit is issued.
The decision whether or not to issue a fire permit will be based on the following factors:
(a) Fire ground conditions (Note: They are subject to the type and size of fire proposed in each case):
- The current fire season status.
- Fire ground location, topography and vehicle accessibility.
- The type and size of fire proposed i.e., garden bonfire, general rubbish fire or large-scale land clearance, stubble or scrub burn off etc.
- The fuel type, volume and combustibility.
- The fire grounds exposure to wind.
- Prevailing weather conditions and long-term weather forecast.
- The location, size and condition of any fire breaks.
- The on site availability of water, fire fighting and earthmoving equipment.
(b) The presence of potential fire hazards near the proposed fire ground:
- Trees, scrub, gorse, grass.
- Buildings including houses, sheds, barns or other buildings.
- Stored animal fodder i.e., haystacks
- Overhead wired electrical and telephone services.
- Communication stations, structures or installations i.e., television, cell phone or radio towers or buildings
- Underground and/or aboveground gas or fuel storage installations.
Land clearing applications require a burn plan
You must prepare a written burn plan for all land clearing and burn off permit applications before a permit will be granted.
The plan must:
- Include a map of the fire ground showing the location of all access roads or tracks, water supplies, potentially vulnerable assets and firefighting equipment.
- Clearly identify the person who will be responsible for controlling and managing the burn on site and provide their name and contact details.
Detail the fire safety checks that will be undertaken before the fire is lit i.e., Metservice for weather update, fire conditions etc.
Detail how the fire will be lit ie. from a helicopter or by persons on foot etc.
Clearly explain how the fire will be monitored and managed.
List the on site communication equipment, services and/or procedures.
Identify how potentially vulnerable assets i.e., buildings, electricity, gas, telephone, telephone, television facilities will be protected.
List the fire fighting resources available on site during the burn. This is to include fire ground personnel, helicopter/s, water tankers, water supply, earthmoving machinery, and fire fighting appliances, equipment etc.
List the notifications that will be made prior to light up i.e., advise the neighbours, Rural Fire Officer, New Zealand Fire Service, the owners of potentially vulnerable assets etc.
Detail the post fire procedures for ensuring the fire is properly extinguished and confirmed as being out at the completion of burning each day.
Hangi, Umu and barbecues are generally exempt from Fire Permit requirements
You do not need a Fire Permit during Restricted Fire Seasons for Hangi, Umu or barbecues.
During a Total Fire Ban, you may apply for a Special Fire Permit for your Hangi or Umu cultural cooking fire.
Fire Permit issue is subject to a site safety inspection.
You may light your gas or coal fired barbecue during a Total Fire Ban provided it is located within a residential property.
Notify the Fire Service prior to lighting your Hangi or Umu cooking fire.
You may contact NZ Fire Service Control on telephone (04) 801 0812. Note: DO NOT USE the 111 emergency telephone service for this purpose.
Specifications for incinerators
You must always use an incinerator that is specifically designed and constructed for rubbish burning.
Old drums are generally not suitable for this purpose unless they have been specially adapted as an incinerator.
Your incinerator should have:
- A grate system to allow a free flow of air through the incinerator to aid burning.
- A cover to contain the burning material .
- A spark arrester to prevent the escape of sparks and embers.
Your incinerator should be cleaned out regularly to remove ashes and unburnt material.
This will ensure clean burning and deter vermin and other pests.
Safely dispose of incinerator waste.
Restrictions on open-air fires
Open-air fires are prohibited at all times:
- On all Porirua City beaches and foreshores.
- After sunset on any day.
The landowner or person in control of the fire is responsible for:
- Compliance with their fire permit terms and conditions.
- Ensuring their fire is extinguished by 5:00 pm each day.
- Extinguishing their fire immediately when requested to do so at any time by a Fire Service, Police or authorised Council Officer.
- Ensuring their fire does not cause a smoke or health nuisance to neighbours or other persons.
- The legal consequences of their fire should it escape, cause property damage or injure any person. A fire permit does not provide exemption from this.
For safety reasons:
- Fallen trees, logs and tree stumps should not be burnt as they can smoulder for long periods of time without visible sign they are doing so and then suddenly erupt into fire.
- Open-air fires and incinerators must be located further than three metres from any property boundary, tree, hedge, building, fence or other structure.
- Open-air fires must not be lit in strong and/or gusty wind conditions. Note: Sparks and embers can be carried considerable distances by the wind and cause fires.
- Open-air fires should not be lit on cool, windless days as smoke will not readily disperse and may cause a nuisance.
- Burn only dry combustible materials.
Consider the environment and properly dispose of plastics, chemicals, rubber, waste fuel or oil, paint or treated timber by recycling or dumping at the Council landfill tip.
Rural Fire Plan
Porirua City Council Rural Fire Authority administers the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977, Forest and Rural Fire Regulations 2005 (and any subsequent additions or amendments) within the Porirua City Council Rural Fire District.
The Fire Plan is prepared under the provisions of section 39(1) of the Forest and Rural Fires Regulations 2005. The plan sets out the Policies and Procedures which the Porirua City Council Rural Fire Authority will use to manage rural fires for the areas under Porirua City Council Rural Fire District jurisdiction.
Links to more fire information
Porirua City Council links: