Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Prepare for wildfire as risky season nears

Neal Wallace
Fire and Emergency shares hot tips for how to prevent and survive fires.
Through the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, the government has invested $51.3 million for the replacement, rebuild or major refurbishment of 26 fire stations across the country in the past three years.
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FIRE and Emergency is urging people to start preparing for the risk of wildfire as hotter drier weather is forecast this summer.

Service delivery wildfire manager Tim Mitchell said the forecast higher temperatures, reduced rainfall and windier El Niño weather pattern predicted for this summer are likely to cause higher levels of fire danger on the east coasts of both islands.

“Given this year’s flood events and wet conditions, people will likely find it difficult to understand the wildfire risk New Zealand could be facing soon,” he said.

“But a spell of hot, dry, windy weather will quickly dry out the grass and vegetation that has grown and will likely grow over the coming months, due to the moist soils and return to warmer weather. This will become a fire risk if not managed.

He said that “98% of New Zealand wildfires are caused by people and people can do a great deal to prevent wildfires occurring and to help protect themselves and their property”.

Fire and Emergency is encouraging people living in rural and semi-rural areas to prepare their properties by:

• Keeping the grass short, particularly around the house and other structures

• Moving firewood and other flammable materials well away from the house

• Clearing gutters so hot embers can’t lodge in them

• Clearing accessways and making sure rapid address numbers are visible 

• Having a plan of action if they are involved in a vegetation fire.

Starting this month, Fire and Emergency will provide location-specific, live fire danger advertisements if the level is high, very high or extreme, through social channels, YouTube and Google search.

From late September, social media, online video, digital display and radio will prompt semi-rural and rural dwellers to prepare their homes and properties for a wildfire.

People can also access real-time and localised fire danger levels and fire season information on MetService’s desktop and app platforms.

Before lighting a fire or doing anything that emits heat or sparks, people need to always check their local fire danger level at checkitsalright.nz

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