Member Advisory

Rural fire risk fast escalating

To: South Island members
While our thoughts go out to those farmers and growers in the north with flooded out crops and paddocks, in many parts of the South Island there's a challenge at the other end of the scale - the usual summer fire threat is building.
FENZ Canterbury has this morning released its rural fire update for the week ahead. While anticipated rain this afternoon and evening will ease conditions into Tuesday, very hot and dry weather is forecast for the rest of the week with warm Northerlies and Northwesterlies predominating from Thursday right through to Monday 6th Feb - Waitangi Day.
Just as an example: For the northern basins of Hanmer/ Culverden / Waiau / Cheviot and Port Hills (mid and southern) / southern Banks Peninsula / southern Selwyn plains to the Rakaia, the BUI (builtup index, or combustible fuel load) is ‘very high’ and FFMC (moisture content of fine fuels) is such that “every ignition will be successful…. all grass and scrub fires will rapidly escalate to equilibrium rates of spread and possibly extreme fire behaviour – given westerlies predominating”.

Forecast fire risk and temperatures Friday 3 February (same for Saturday and Sunday, and Monday/Waitangi Day, only 2 degrees cooler that day). Source: FENZ Canterbury District 

Land owners are urged to be very aware of the dangers inherent in spark hazardous work, mowing, gas cutting, etc., on Thursday 2nd – Monday 6th Feb and avoid these activities.

Remember, just because you know the risks/have the knowledge don’t assume that your children or workers do.

Restricted or prohibited fire seasons are now in place in many districts of the South Island and some in the North Island. Permits are needed for all areas in the FENZ Canterbury District (Rakaia to Kaikoura). Open fires are banned in much of Southland.

  • There’s a wealth of information and advice on the checkitsalright website, including (under the ‘Can I light a fire?’ tab) the ability to type in your address and check what fire restrictions/permit requirements apply.


Angela Johnston
Senior Policy Advisor
[email protected]