Urban fire bylaw is now in place

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The Waitaki District Council’s Urban Fire Protection Bylaw is now in force _ and recent rain has meant the total fire ban has been lifted.
It is an updated version of the 2009 bylaw, and while it was not due to be reviewed until 2018, the council decided to review earlier because urban fire district boundaries under the bylaw did not match those defined by the New Zealand Fire Service.
Other issues included whether the council should be the organisation that issued fire permits and if a total urban fire ban should be put in place _ which ended up coming into effect on January 9.
Following public consultation, the final bylaw was adopted.
Waitaki District Council emergency management manager Jane Lodge said the bylaw clearly outlined rules governing urban fires, while complying with local body plans.
“As well as adopting our town urban fire prevention bylaw, we have been careful to ensure it complies with the Otago Regional Council’s Air For Otago plan and the Canterbury Air Regional Plan.”“The bylaw requires people to apply for a permit from council before they light an outdoor fire. As long as there isn’t a total fire ban in place people may light an open fire within the district as long as they have obtained the permit.”The bylaw says a fire must not be lit within 50m of the closest part of a property boundary, while other conditions must also be met, such as what can and can’t be burnt.
Any wood to be burned must be dry and untreated; burning paper and cardboard is permitted, as is burning vegetation, though it must not be green.
Fires cannot be lit before sunrise and must be completely extinguished by sunset, and fires can’t be let to burn indefinitely.
“A considerable amount of work has gone into preparing a bylaw that reflects community views, is easily understood by the public and provides a pragmatic approach to outdoor urban fires,” Mrs Lodge said.
“Because many New Zealand families enjoy summer barbecues and outdoor eating, the bylaw recognises solid fuel barbecues, pizza ovens and traditional cooking fires as legitimate outdoor cooking facilities.
“However, these facilities must not be within 3m of any part of a building, tree, hedge, fence or any other combustible material and only require a permit from council during a total fire ban period.”Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Total Urban Fire Ban was lifted _ but in coastal Waitaki only, the boundaries of which are set by the NZ Fire Service and include, but not limited to, Oamaru, Hampden and Palmerston. The total ban remains in place for Kurow, Ohau, Otematata and Omarama.
During a Restricted Fire Season solid fuel barbeques, pizza ovens and traditional cooking fires are authorised provided they meet the criteria set out in the Urban Fire Prevention Bylaw 2015.
To apply for an urban fire permit people should contact Council on 0800 108-081. Information leaflets and a copy of the bylaw are available at council’s main office in Oamaru, at the Oamaru Public Library or at www.waitaki.govt.nz.