Skip to main content

Open fire ban to save lives

Thursday, 30 April 2015 5:00 p.m.

Improving Rotorua’s air quality will save an estimated 22 lives each year.  

It’s the number of deaths attributed to the city’s poor air quality in a 2007 study titled Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand. 

But to improve the city’s air quality and reduce this number action needs to happen and the way Rotorua residents heat their homes needs to change.

For this reason, from tomorrow (SUBS: 1 May 2015) a ban on using indoor open fires comes into force.

The ban is part of a bylaw to improve the city’s air quality, which was adopted by Rotorua Lakes Council in 2010.

The ban on using open fires for home heating is one of the actions from the Rotorua Air Bylaw to help meet the Ministry for the Environment’s National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. 

It’s step three in the process, and follows on from rules also introduced in the bylaw around what types of new burners can be purchased and installed from 2010, and preventing homes being sold with non-complying solid fuel burners from 2012.

Lyall Thurston, Councillor for Bay of Plenty Regional Council in the Rotorua constituency, said the development of the Bylaw, including the open fire ban rule, was publicly consulted on in 2010. 

“It’s about improving the city’s air quality and saving lives. We want to make sure people feel confident that the air they’re breathing is safe for them and is not going to make them sick, or worse,” he said.

Cr Thurston said while there are costs involved with upgrading a home’s heating, the date surrounding the ban has been known for many years and should not be a surprise to the city’s homeowners.

“During the past year the Regional Council has advertised on radio and in newspapers, used billboards, sent a ratepayer mail out to 9000 properties, produced factsheets and used social media updates and our website to update people on the bylaw. Information has also been sent to all Rotorua Real Estate Agents and Property Managers.”  

He said depending on a person’s financial situation there are options available to them to be able to upgrade their heating and many residents have already done so.

“In 2005 there were approximately 850 indoor open fires being used in the Rotorua Airshed and since then 225 open fireplaces have been upgraded to clean heating options through the Clean Heat programme. As well, members of the public, through the Point of Sale rule are making their indoor open fires inoperable. People don’t need to remove open fires, although we recommend boarding them off to avoid losing heat up the chimney.”

The Regional Council is taking an educative approach to enforcing its bylaw by influencing and motivating people to change to cleaner forms of heating.  It is running three incentive programmes (EECA Warm Up NZ, Host Swap and full support) which encourage people who have open fires to convert them to cleaner heating.

To see if you are eligible for free insulation and clean heat visit www.betterhomes.co.nz

Open fire - Rotorua air quality