Urban Vegetation Fire Risk Now Handled by FENZ

If you live in the Mackenzie District and are concerned about a potential fire risk from overgrown vegetation, new legislation means you'll need to contact Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) directly not the local Council.

Under the Fire Emergency New Zealand Act 2017, FENZ now takes responsibility for urban fire control and removing fire hazards. Previously this responsibility lay with Councils.

"We're coming into the summer season and this generally sees an increase in complaints to Council about overgrown sites that pose a fire risk," says Mackenzie District Council's Group Manager Regulations, Karina Morrow.

"An overgrown site can be a fire hazard. Long, dry grass can be fuel for a fire that starts on a property or spreads from elsewhere such as embers, ground fires or radiant heat. The problem is compounded when combustible materials like wood, cardboard, cloth and other rubbish are stored on a section."

"To reduce these risks, owners or occupiers need to make sure that their section is well maintained. This means cutting long grass regularly and clearing the property of loose rubbish. If you're renting, you might want to talk with your landlord about who has responsibility for maintaining the section," Ms Morrow says.

If there's a property in your neighbourhood that you believe is causing a fire hazard due to an unkempt section, Ms Morrow suggests having an initial conversation with the property owner. If this does not resolve the problem, you need to contact FENZ on 0800 336 942 (FENZHA). "FENZ is only able to take action to deal with genuine fire hazards and not where the property is unsightly but does not pose a fire risk," Ms Morrow says.

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