Rural Fire

Restricted Fire Season 1 December 2017 to 11.59pm on 31 March 2018 - Permit Required.

Fire Risk for Otorohanga District and Waitomo District Areas.


Current Fire Season - Restricted (Permit required)

8 January 2018 - A permit is required to light a fire in open air in the Otorohanga District. Permits will be valid until Tuesday 23 January, when the restriction will be reviewed.

If you have a permit that expired on 20 December 2017 you will need to contact Council to have this renewed.

You are able to operate a compliant outdoor fire device (see description), gas-fuelled cookers or gas-fuelled BBQs providing weather conditions are favourable, they are operated by an adult and they are used in a safe considerate manner.

A compliant outdoor fire device and a compliant incinerator must contain all embers and sparks as per the following requirements:

A compliant outdoor fire device must have the following characteristics:

  • Is a permanent fixed structure; and
  • Is constructed of non-combustible materials; and
  • Has a chimney with a spark arrestor fitted and has
    • A non-combustible hearth or base (which can include the ground surrounding the fixed structure that extends no less than 750 mm forward from the front edge of the fire box and no less than 500 mm from the outside edge of the fire to both sides: and
    • A door to contain burning materials, or a protective grille or barrier across the front of the fire box, with a minimum height of 80 mm to contain burning materials

A compliant incinerator must have the following characteristics-

  • Is a container made of non-combustible materials: and
  • Is used for burning materials; and
  • Contains all burning materials: and
  • Has a chimney with spark arrester fitted: and
  • Has a grate and lid/door.

No permits will be issued until 8 January, but it can be extended if conditions merit.

If you see an out of control fire, call the Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 111.

Please be mindful that the local brigades are volunteers and would appreciate a nice break with their families as well

Rural Fire

Otorohanga Fire and Emergency New Zealand is the Authority responsible for fire protection and suppression within the District, with the exception of the following areas:

  • Urban fire districts (Otorohanga and Kawhia) - under the control of Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Ranginui/Mangakino Areas - under the control of Pumicelands Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Rural Fire is managed by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Operational responses are provided by Fire and Emergency New Zealand brigades, contracted helicopters, fire fighting and earthmoving operators.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand must manage fire prevention and management by:

  • providing education on rural fires, and how to prevent them.
  • restricting the use of fire, or even banning the lighting of fires in very dry weather by means of declaring an Open, Restricted or Prohibited fire season. To check the current fire status is, click here
  • being prepared for, and responding to, rural fires in the district.

For more information on Rural Fire, please visit the Fire and Emergency New Zealand website:

Fire and Emergency New Zealand - Fire Season Descriptions

Open Fire Season

Generally from end March to second Monday of January.

This means that, in all cases, any person may light a fire in the open air without a fire permit.

They must, of course, take all necessary precautions, including:

  • No lighting of fires under windy conditions, near to buildings, neighbours' property, or potentially flammable vegetation, materials or liquids.
  • Remain in attendance of the fire until it is fully extinguished.
  • Fires must not be lit at night without first obtaining a fire permit to do so.

Even though you can light a fire without a permit, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extinguish it, and you can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances of negligence.

Restricted Fire Season

Fire restrictions are applied across the Otorohanga District from the second Monday of January to the end of March.

They may be extended if conditions require when fire danger is high and may be put in place at any time of the year.

Restrictions mean that fire permits need to be obtained which may stipulate conditions of burning that must be met.

Prohibited Fire Season (Total Fire Ban)

A total fire ban is only declared where extreme weather and high fire danger conditions prevail. No permits will be issued during this period and therefore no fires are permitted.

Permitted activities in a restricted or prohibited season are:

  • Gas-operated barbeque with a suitable frame
  • Charcoal barbeque within the confines of an occupied residential property
  • A special permit may be obtained for a hangi or umu

How Do I Obtain a Permit?

Permits to burn during a restricted fire season,  for the burning of grass, scrub and other vegetation for essential agricultural and industrial purposes must be obtained from a delegated person listed below. 

Permits to burn for other purposes, for example, industrial burning and cutting  but may be subject to consents from Environment Waikato, also must be obtained from a delegated person listed below.

Permits are issued by:

  • Principal Rural Fire Officer, or
  • Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer, or
  • Delegated Fire and Emergency New Zealand Officer

Please contact Council on 07 873 4000 or for further information.

Even though you receive a permit and comply with the conditions, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extinguish it, and can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances.

Note: These permits are NOT VALID during a TOTAL FIRE BAN.

If you wish to light a fire within a Department of Conservation reserve, you must obtain a permit from Fire and Emergency New Zealand, these operate under a Restricted Fire Season all year.

Please contact the Council on 07 873 4000 for further information. 

Likewise, people wishing to light a fire in the vicinity of Pumicelands Fire and Emergency New Zealand should discuss with thier office. Please phone: 07 349 2295

Three working days are required between the request for a fire permit and the time to burn. This enables staff to inspect sites and process fire permits. 

Even though you receive a permit and comply with the conditions, you nevertheless remain responsible for any damage or costs incurred to extinguish it, and can also be prosecuted under certain circumstances (see section below).

People who are traditionally reliant on burning household rubbish need to make alternative arrangements for disposal. 

Fire prevention measures in urban areas enable people to light fires without a fire permit, using approved incinerators such as barbeques, and traditional cooking fires (i.e. Hangi) - not 40-gallon drums. 

Only gas barbeques and traditional cooking may be lit in rural areas without a permit but due care must still be taken.

This is providing that fires are not lit at night and safeguards are taken to prevent the risk of fire spreading and smoke nuisance.

Fires must be supervised at all times and equipment must be on hand to extinguish the fire if it gets out of control. 

Care needs to be taken to ensure that ashes are properly extinguished, otherwise, they could be re-ignited by the wind.

Rural Fire Safety and Prevention

Reduce Risks

  • Ensure trees and tree limbs are kept pruned and well away from homes
  • Plant trees clear of power lines and keep gutters clear
  • Keep the grass mown around your home
  • Dispose of cigarettes carefully
  • Plant less flammable native tree species near your home

Be Prepared

  • Have a family plan for escaping your home
  • Install smoke alarms for early detection
  • Rural homes - know your RAPID number and ensure that it can be seen clearly from the road
  • Have a hose attached to your water tap
  • Report any suspicious activities
  • Remove vegetation from accessways that may prevent emergency services from reaching you

Be Safe

  • Dial 111 for fire
  • Ensure everyone evacuates the house
  • Don't go back into a burning structure
  • Stay away from vegetation fire


It is an offence to light a fire without a permit and to be negligent with the use of fire. Breach against the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 may incurr fines and/or prosection.