08 May 2017

Smoky outdoor fires brought in a significant number of complaints to the Regional Councils Pollution Hotline last week, despite the winter fire Season having only just opened 1st May.

The Restricted Fire Season for Bay of Plenty runs from 1 October through to 30 April; during this period you need a fire permit to burn any open air fire. However, from 1 May until the end of September, because of the cooler weather, you are allowed to burn some items in a controlled environment.

Regulatory Compliance Team Leader Alex Miller says the complaints they have got so far mostly relate to horticultural properties  burning green waste that is not sufficiently dry.

“People having outdoor fires need to be considerate of others and use their common sense. Although outdoor fires and burn-offs are permitted during the winter months, some simple rules still apply in order to minimise the impacts on both your neighbours and the environment. An excessively smoky fire is a sign you are not burning material correctly, which results in air pollution, and can potentially endanger health,” he says.

“On Monday  afternoon alone, we observed six fires emitting thick smoke in the Aongatete area. Together these outdoor fires can have a big impact on air quality, particularly for the local area” he says.

“Where possible, mulching and composting is a much better solution for green waste, and also has the benefit of helping to retain soil moisture, feed plants and make good use of a waste product,” says Mr Miller.

To avoid creating smoky fires:

  • Only burn dry untreated wood
  • Try to let your neighbours know in advance
  • Check weather conditions, especially wind direction
  • Have a means to control the fire

Do not:

  • Burn wet or treated wood
  • Burn plastics, rubbish, household/construction/demolition waste or tyres
  • Light fires in strong winds

Different rules apply for residential areas to rural areas; if in doubt, visit your local councils website for more information on what you’re allowed to burn and when.