If the small forest you own or manage is a few trees or over 100 hectares of trees – exotic or indigenous – protecting it from fire is critical so you can realise the full value of the trees or the site.
Reducing your Risk
You, as owner/manager of the forest are the person responsible for reducing the risk of fire that can threaten your investment. To reduce this risk you should:
- plant a buffer of less easily burned native species that is 10 to 20 metres wide.
- create firebreaks on ridgelines or property boundaries.
- prune lower branches and clear the pruning’s from roadsides.
- keep weeds down on forest margins.
- clear gorse near or under your trees.
- remove or bury all rubbish.
Avoid Possible Ignitions
Understanding what can cause fires to start and spread in your forest will help you reduce the risk. Ensure you:
- keep vegetation clear of power wires.
- inform contractors of any gas pipelines and contact the pipeline owner.
- avoid planting on sites where there may be pockets of natural gas.
- do not use explosives in elevated fire danger periods.
- do not use tin lids or other reflective surfaces.
Operate Machinery Safely
Bulldozers, excavators, trucks, chainsaws, disc grinders and welding equipment etc are all used in forestry management and are all possible source of fire ignitions.
- clean and maintain machinery.
- ensure no oil or fuel leaks.
- use turbo-charged machinery or fit it with a spark arrester.
- clear the radiator of grass and fine twigs etc.
- have a fire extinguisher on board or a self-activating fire extinguisher, if possible.
- ensure exhausts are not ported towards fine dry fuels (see Forest and Rural Fires Regulation 2005, Regulation 55).
Being Prepared for Fire
If a fire starts, it must be put out as soon as possible, before it spreads. You can help by making some preparations in advance. You need to ensure you have:
- easy and safe site access – for a large truck about 4 m wide and 2.5 tonne weight to drive and turn on roads and bridges.
- good signage – signs at entrance points and property boundaries to direct firefighters, including RAPID numbers.
- adequate and accessible water – streams, rivers, ponds, dams or tanks.
Fire Response Schedule
Prepare a Fire Response Schedule and distribute it to your Rural Fire Authority and a helpful neighbour. The schedule will tell them what to do, who to contact, and identify access, water supplies, and hazards for fire fighters.
Ensuring Neighbours and Visitors are Fire Safe
- Having a good relationship with neighbours and visitors to your property is valuable. They will call 111 and notify the Rural Fire Authority if they spot a fire on your property.
Discuss fire safety with visitors
- If people visit and use your forest for recreation, discuss fire safety with them. Encourage responsible and sensible people to use your forest area.
- If you have a contractor working in your forest, ensure their contract specifies conditions for the safety of others, themselves and the forest.
Keep ‘Fire Starters’ out of your Forest
- Ensure your property is secure so that people are discouraged from trespassing and using your property for illegal activities like burning out a stolen vehicle or cultivating drugs.
- Consider having locked gates, fences or barriers, such as drains, concrete blocks or large trees across potential entry points. You can if necessary, use the Trespass Act 1980. Discuss this option with your local Police Officer.
- Neighbours, recreational visitors and contractors should have insurance in case they are responsible for causing a fire on your property that needs suppressing.
Call 111 if a Fire Starts
Calling 111 takes you to New Zealand’s Central Incident Management System. You must tell them:
- your name, RAPID number, contact phone number and where the fire is.
- what is burning and the relevant rural fire authority.
- extent of the fire in hectares and the type of terrain including any hazards.
- the closest brigade or volunteer rural fire force that is available to deal with the fire.
- the quickest route and the quickest roads for fire-fighters to take to get to the fire.
- you may also advise your neighbours, mark access routes for fire vehicles, mark water supplies, move livestock, remove or identify any barriers or hazards for the fire-fighters.
For more Information
To find out more about the topics discussed above, see the following resource: