At this time of year most farmers have one eye on the sky for rain, and the other eye on their drying out pastures or crops.

From my farm, I can see the hills around the Hawke's Bay drying out.

While New Zealand does not have the same bushfire risks our Australian counterparts face, they routinely suffer loss of life and suffer massive property damage in their bushfire season.

I think it's about time everyone took note of how they kept their farms and homes and start to get in good habits when it came to New Zealand's drier months.

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Climate change is occurring, and while no one has the clear concrete specifics of how that will look for each region, enough experts have said we can expect to see the weather become more extreme, so we need to get our communities into good habits.

It's always best to be safe rather than sorry and it is time to think about fire risks, particularly as rural Hawke's Bay is now under a restricted fire season.

Some proactive steps that you can undertake to reduce fire risk are: mowing grass often, removing dead fuels, creating a fire break around your property, providing an easily accessible water supply and ensuring there is a clear approach for emergency vehicles if needed.

During a restricted season, fire is allowed by permit only and under a prohibited season no fires into open air can be lit.

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act now criminalises anyone who lights a fire that spreads into vegetation.

The Department of Internal Affairs have deemed that "lighting or allowing another person to light a fire in open air during a restricted fire season, in breach of permit conditions" is a moderate level offence.

While charges have yet to be finalised, this could mean you may be liable for a criminal conviction with fines up to $2250 for an individual or $11,250 for a corporate.

Act responsibly because if you don't the consequences could be devastating.

Jim Galloway is Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay provincial president