Fire service appreciates public for total fire bans


The Hawke's Bay public has been given the thumbs-up from local councils and the fire service for both taking on small scrub fires as well as sticking to strict total fire bans.

"It has been amazingly quiet given the conditions," fire service area commander Chris Nicoll said, adding "but it's a case of touch wood when you say things like that".

He said there had been one or two call-outs a week, but on the whole people had taken the message aboard about how dry conditions had become, and what a threat fire had become.

He believed major scrub fires in Christchurch and in the north over the past months, and the fires in Australia, may have raised peoples' awareness.

Hastings District Council principal rural fire officer Trevor Mitchell said on a couple of occasions people passing through rural areas, and who spotted grass fires on the roadside, had "saved our bacon".

"They called the fire service and then got stuck in and helped contain them.

A couple of times they managed to put them out before the fire service got there," he said.

"People have been pretty good and have been very quick to ring in if they've seen any signs of smoke."

While there had been reports of backyard fires and barbecues, the numbers were small.

Napier City Council regulatory services manager Mike Webster said they were getting "the odd call" coming in to report backyard fires. "It really is a concern for us, but in many ways people are to be congratulated because they are sticking with the ban," Mr Webster said.

There had been requests from some people to stage a hangi but Mr Webster said in most cases it was just too dry to let them go ahead.

The prohibited fire season came into force in Napier on December 17 last year - the only exemption being gas-fired barbecues.

The ban came into force across the Hastings district three days earlier.

Mr Nicoll said the service was watching the increasingly serious drought with concern as it could eventually impact on water supply access, particularly in rural areas.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 23 Apr 2014 18:54:45 Processing Time: 433ms