Federated Farmers is urging all rural folk to take precautions to try to ensure work activities don’t spark a vegetation blaze.
With many regions in the North Island facing tinder dry conditions, one risk that may be overlooked is clumps of cowpat or similar material sticking to the exhausts of quad bikes and other vehicles, says Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway.
“It sticks on there, dries, heats and starts smoldering. If that falls into dry grass it can set off flames.”
The entire North Island and most of the South is now in either a Prohibited or Restricted fire season, according to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
FENZ manager rural fire Tim Mitchell says the hot and dry conditions have created extreme fire risk, including in areas such as Northland, Auckland and Waikato which haven’t traditionally experienced such extreme fire danger for an extended period. “Please pay attention to the fire season.
“If you are in an area where there is a prohibited fire season there is a total fire ban. No fires are permitted, including rubbish fires. This is because there is a very real risk that in the current conditions a fire could easily spread and get out of control.”
Jim’s region has already experienced rural fires, and it’s thought two were caused by the blades of a mower striking stone, wire or something else hard and causing a spark.
“In the current conditions, farmers and others should think very carefully about whether it’s safe to do mowing or topping or any other activity that could cause sparks,” says Jim.
Another risk to look out for is power lines are sagging in the heat may touch tree-tops underneath. And wind causing powerline ‘clapping’ – or touching – is another factor.
“We’re just asking farmers and others in the community to be vigilant and to take a precautionary approach,” says Jim.
“It’s sound practice to carry a fire extinguisher on farm vehicles. That could end up being the difference between a patch of smoldering grass and a major event.
“If you’ve got a vehicle that carries spray equipment and the tank is not is use, it’s a good idea to fill it with water and park it in an accessible place so you’ve got a means of putting out small fires.”
Tim says all New Zealanders are urged to be careful and take precautions to prevent a fire starting or getting out of control. “It only takes one spark to start a fire – so don’t risk it. Some routine activities like driving vehicles through roadside vegetation, or machinery work, can cause a fire in these extremely dry conditions.
“If you have to, use any machinery that could spark such as lawnmowers, welding, or even a plough, in the morning or evenings – during the cooler parts of the day.
“Make sure any permitted fires or historic burn sites from the past two months are fully extinguished. “Even though they may seem out, they have the potential to remain hot and flare up in these conditions.”
Find more about the fire season status in your area and information on how to reduce the risk of fire at: www.checkitsalright.nz