NZ residents asked to avoid burning fires at beaches this summer


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Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is urging residents of Hawke’s Bay to refrain from open burning, particularly at beaches, during the summer season.

This advisory comes in the wake of a significant increase in vegetation fires in the area.

Rising incidents of vegetation fires in Hawke’s Bay

In December 2023, FENZ crews attended 23 vegetation fires, predominantly along local beaches from Bay View to Te Awanga.

This marked a substantial increase from the nine fires attended in November.

The primary cause of these fires was identified as the burning of rubbish and woody debris.

Community risk manager emphasises the need for vigilance

Nigel Hall, Hawke’s Bay Community Risk Manager, expressed concern over the rising temperatures and the onset of the busiest part of the fire season.

He stated: “Temperatures are continuing to rise and as we enter the busiest part of the fire season, our crews are spending a lot of time attending beach fires.

“We need the public to be responsible and vigilant and not set fires that are going to require our attendance.

“In these conditions, fires will spread rapidly, grass and scrub are easily ignited, and fires will be difficult to control.”

Hall also highlighted that while the triggers for a restricted fire season have not been met in the region, the situation remains concerning.

Collaboration with local councils for waste removal

FENZ is collaborating with Napier City Council and Hawkes Bay Regional Council to remove waste wood from local beaches, a measure aimed at preventing unwanted fires.

Hall urges the public not to burn this waste themselves, noting that burning rubbish is illegal under the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Safety advice for residents

Residents are encouraged to visit the website to verify the safety and legality of lighting fires in their area and to access safety advice.

This step is crucial to ensure both personal and community safety during the high-risk fire season.

IFSJ Comment

The proactive approach of Fire and Emergency New Zealand in addressing the heightened risk of vegetation fires in Hawke’s Bay exemplifies the importance of community awareness and collaboration in fire prevention.

The increase in beach fires, primarily caused by the burning of rubbish and debris, underscores the need for constant vigilance and responsible behaviour by residents, particularly during peak fire seasons.

This situation also highlights the critical role of local authorities and emergency services in mitigating fire risks through effective communication, regulation enforcement, and strategic collaboration.

The concerted effort to educate the public and remove potential fire hazards from beaches is a commendable step towards safeguarding communities and natural environments from the devastating impact of uncontrolled fires.

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