Local News

Piha Volunteer Fire Chief’s advice

1 Comment 29 September 2015

Advice re fire risk in times of drought



I asked Ron Gortor, Piha’s Fire Chief, if he would like to give us some advice about fire risk in times of drought

Ron wrote the following for us:



The rules around clearing vegetation are  set and controlled by council  and lean towards the environmental / amenity value, the NZ Fire Service have no policy on clearance around houses.

What we can all appreciate is that having some space around dwellings certainly is beneficial in the event of a fire so any concerned parties should work with council to achieve this.

In Piha the main fuel sources for  quick burning fires are pampas grass, flax , Manuka  and Duff ( Dry leaf and plant litter)  and these do present a problem as they are quick growing.  The leafy natives like Pohutukawa,  Puka etc are slower burning initially.


In regard to water sources, we work as much as we can from open water sources and have used swimming pools and water tank supplies. Under the fire service act we are authorised to use tank water from private properties.

When we do this we ensure that the tank owner is not disadvantaged, and this generally means we will replace the water used-  we do is with the agreement of the owner so they should talk to us directly and we will arrange the refill.

We may not do this in winter / spring when there is every likelihood that the tank will self-refill.


In terms of what to do the best thing you can do is get the Fire service responding as quick as possible knocking down a smallish fire is a lot easier that dealing with a well-established scrub / house fire.

Then get yourself to a  safe up wind location where  we can find you easily as we arrive.

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Your Comments

1 comment

  1. the Bounder says:

    Quite a good pamphlet or PDF can be obtained at wrfa.org.nz on safety around houses-basically Piha is a Rural Fire area and they provide guidelines see or search for FireSmart homeowners manual- which I think should be distributed to all bach/home owners.
    If you look into NZ Rural Fire Authority web site some good material on bush fires can be accessed / training material and the science of bush fires etc- but best to leave the actual fighting to those that have the right training and protective clothing, if interested go down and join up Monday at 7.30pm.

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