When travelling through, visiting, or working in a forest or rural area, it is your responsibility to check the fire season. If you want to light a fire in open air, you may need a permit.
Apply for a permit in a restricted fire season
A restricted fire season in the area means you will need to get a permit to light a fire in the open air.
You are lighting a fire in the open air if you have a:
- cooking fire
- rubbish fire
- controlled burn
- prescribed burn.
Fire seasons determine if you need a permit
The fire season is one way Rural Fire Authorities decide if you need a permit to light an open fire. Our Rural Fire Authorities use a fire season system to communicate the risk of fire in a particular area at a particular time.
There are three fire seasons: open, restricted and prohibited.
||No, you will not need a permit|
||Yes, you will need a permit|
||Total ban on lighting fires. Existing permits are cancelled|
If you have a permit and the fire season becomes prohibited, your permit will be cancelled. You cannot light open fires if it is a prohibited fire season.
Follow instructions on your permit
If you start a fire and it needs to be suppressed, you may have to pay the costs, regardless of whether you have a permit.
Responsible for costs
Individuals found to be responsible for causing rural fires that escape have faced costs in excess of $500,000.
It is an offence to light an open fire without a permit during a restricted fire season. If you do not have a permit and light a fire, you can be charged under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
If a member of the police or a Rural Fire Officer asks you to produce a permit, you must do so within a reasonable time. If you do not, this is considered an offence.
Also see ‘Protect yourself with insurance’ (html)
Contact a rural fire authority
To apply for a permit, you will need to contact the relevant Rural Fire Authority. You will need to provide them with information so they can assess your application for a permit.
- provide you with a form to fill in
- visit the site where you will light the fire if necessary
- identify any special conditions you must follow.
Lighting fires for recreation
If you are lighting an open fire for recreational reasons in a restricted fire season, you will need to let the Rural Fire Authority know:
- your name and contact details
- the location of the fire – a map or a sketch
- what you are burning
- the nature and purpose of the fire
- the duration of the fire permit.
Lighting fires on farms
If you are having a burn off on your farm, you may also need to let them know:
- what your plans are for firebreaks
- what type of vegetation you are burning
- the nearest water supply for pumps or helicopters and its volume
- any hazards in the area, such as high tension power lines.
To identify the relevant Rural Fire Authority for an area, use the maps on the home page – www.nrfa.org.nz