Fire and Emergency NZ Muriwhenua area commander Wipari Henwood. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Be fire safe during Covid-19 level 4 lockdown
Fire and Emergency responded to 26 calls involving fires in Northland since lockdown kicked in on Wednesday.
Thirteen were vegetation fires, four were building fires and nine were other fires such as rubbish fires.
Muriwhenua Area Manager Wipari Henwood said burning of most household waste, already illegal in Northland or any outdoor burning regardless of a fire permit, put firefighters at risk, especially during lockdown.
"Under our strict Covid-19 protocol, each brigade is a bubble.
"Every time firefighters attend an incident, they risk exposing themselves to people outside their bubble.
"Even controlled burning could be a problem during lockdown because other people or neighbours may not know it is controlled and still call 111.
"This means our firefighters will have to break their bubbles to respond.
"Firefighters are committed to protecting our communities during this challenging time.
"I urge Northlanders to be considerate of our firefighters' health, safety and wellbeing."
The public should also pay attention to fire safety at home as a building fire could potentially spread to neighbouring buildings or turn into vegetation fires
National Commander Kerry Gregory said New Zealand could be assured Fire and Emergency was well prepared to help communities in an emergency during Level 4 restrictions.
He did call for patience, however, regarding outdoor fires for land management and said it would be best to hold off applying for a permit for an outdoor fire until the lockdown was over.
"While we are under Covid alert level 4 we are unable to visit sites to review permit applications," he said.
"We are understandably reluctant to put the public and our people at risk to conduct inspections and there will be cases where we cannot grant permits at this time.
"Help us by doing your bit to minimise the risk of fire and the number of avoidable call outs for our first responders.
"If you've lit a fire recently, check and make sure that it is completely out. Dig down into the fire sites, rake them out and pour water on them.
"If strong winds are forecast, this can cause fires that appeared extinguished to rekindle and flare up again."
While everyone is at home, Gregory said now was a good time to think about fire safety around the house.
"While working from home, make sure you're not overloading multiplugs at your work stations and keep everything one metre from the heater.
"Check your smoke alarms are working as well and make an escape plan which you can get help with by visiting www.escapemyhouse.co.nz.
"We've done this before, we can do it again. Stay safe Aotearoa."
Fore more fire safety information, visit: fireandemergency.nz/at-home