Having a Fire

Select less burnable plant species.

  • Plant your forest with species with a lower burning risk
  • Plant a buffer of less easily burned native species that is 10 to 20 metres wide
  • Clear gorse near or under your trees

Do your housekeeping

  • Create firebreaks on ridgelines or property boundaries
  • Prune lower branches and clear the prunings from roadsides
  • Keep weeds down on forest margins
  • Remove or bury all rubbish

Operate machinery safely

For example, bulldozers, excavators or trucks, chainsaws, disc grinders and welding equipment.

  • Clean and maintain machinery
  • Ensure no oil or fuel leaks
  • Use turbo-charged machinery or fit it with a spark arrester
  • Clear the radiator of grass and fine twigs etc
  • Have a fire extinguisher on board or a self-activating fire extinguisher, if possible
  • Ensure exhausts are not ported towards fine dry fuels (see Forest and Rural Fires Regulation 2005, Regulation 55)

Avoid possible ignitions

  • Keep vegetation clear of power wires
  • Inform contractors of any gas pipelines and contact the pipeline owner
  • Avoid planting on sites where there may be pockets of natural gas
  • Do not use explosives in elevated fire danger periods
  • Do not use tin lids or other reflective surfaces

Being prepared for fire

If a fire starts, it must be put out as soon as possible, before it spreads. You can help by making some preparations in advance.

You need to ensure you have:

  • easy and safe site access – for a large truck about 4 m wide and 2.5 tonne weight to drive and turn on roads and bridges
  • good signage – signs at entrance points and property boundaries to direct firefighters, including RAPID numbers
  • adequate and accessible water – streams, rivers, ponds, dams or tanks.

Fire Response Schedule

Prepare a Fire Response Schedule and distribute it to Northland Fire and Emergency New Zealand and a helpful neighbour. The schedule will tell them what to do, who to contact, and identify access, water supplies, and hazards for firefighters.

Ensuring neighbours and visitors are fire safe

Having a good relationship with neighbours and visitors to your property is valuable. They will call 111 and notify Northland Fire and Emergency New Zealand if they spot a fire on your property.

Discuss fire safety with visitors

If people visit and use your forest for recreation, discuss fire safety with them. Encourage responsible and sensible people to use your forest area.

If you have a contractor working in your forest, ensure their contract specifies conditions for the safety of others, themselves and the forest.

Keep ‘fire starters’ out of your forest

Ensure your property is secure so that people are discouraged from trespassing and using your property for illegal activities like burning out a stolen vehicle or cultivating drugs.

Consider having locked gates, fences or barriers, such as drains, concrete blocks or large trees across potential entry points.

If necessary, use the Trespass Act 1980.


Neighbours, recreational visitors and contractors should have insurance in case they are responsible for causing a fire on your property that needs suppressing.

For more information, see ‘Protect yourself with insurance’.

Call 111 if a fire starts

Calling 111 takes you to New Zealand’s Central Incident Management System.

You must tell them:

  • your name, RAPID number, contact phone number and where the fire is
  • what is burning and the relevant rural fire authority
  • extent of the fire in hectares and the type of terrain including any hazards
  • the closest brigade or volunteer rural fire force that is available to deal with the fire
  • the quickest route and the quickest roads for firefighters to take to get to the fire.

You may also advise your neighbours, mark access routes for fire vehicles, mark water supplies, move livestock, remove or identify any barriers or hazards for the firefighters.

For more information

To find out more about the topics discussed above, see the following resources:

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