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Environmental Health
~ Ratonga Tiaki Taiao

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Current Fire Status

Napier City is currently in an Open Fire Season for rural areas. Open fires (aside from cooking fires) are not permitted in urban areas.

Open Fire Season

What do they mean?

Napier is an area that generally has a warm, dry climate in summer which can increase the risk of fires. Under Councils Fire Control Bylaw several "fire seasons" can be declared:

  • OPEN FIRE SEASON - People are able to light fires incompliance with the bylaw (note: not in urban areas only in rural areas).
  • RESTRICTED FIRE SEASON - People can light fires only if a permit is issued from Council.
  • PROHIBITED FIRE SEASON - No fires may be lit anywhere.

For clarification of any of the above call a bylaws officer at the Council.

The Regional Council imposes restrictions on burning at some times of the year for air quality reasons. It is recommended that you contact the Hawkes Bay Regional Council or consult their website before lighting any fires.

Bylaw Requirements

Conditions of lighting:

  1. Fires must not be sited within 5 metres of any building, combustible material or boundary.
  2. Continuous supervision at all times.
  3. Readily available water or other fire suppression means.
  4. Only burn in suitable weather conditions (i.e. watch the wind direction and strength).
  5. No burning after dark.
  6. Ensure fire and embers are thoroughly out at completion.
  7. Avoid smoke nuisance to neighbours.

Fines up to $20,000 can be imposed upon prosecution.

Restricted Fire Season Urban Area

  • No open air or incinerator fires.
  • Gas barbeques are exempt.
  • Other barbeques are exempt provided conditions for lighting are observed.
  • Traditional cooking fires must have a fire permit issued and conditions for lighting are to be observed.
  • Braziers and similar burners are treated as open air fires.

Restricted Fire Season Rural Area

  • Open air and incinerator fires under permit conditions only.
  • A site inspection is to be carried out by an authorised officer.
  • Gas barbeques are exempt.
  • Other barbeques are exempt provided conditions for lighting are observed.
  • Traditional cooking fires must have a permit issued and conditions for lighting are to be observed.

Fire Safety

Previous years have highlighted the extreme fire danger conditions that exist in Hawke's Bay during a good summer. In addition, the built up areas of Napier now mean a blanket ban is in place against backyard burning in all urban areas. For details consult the Fire Control Bylaw.

No areas were more at risk than Poraiti. Indeed this area will always be at risk even in a mild summer, because of the abundance of fuel and the steep slopes and gullies in the area.

The advice offered in this document, if followed, should considerably reduce the risk of a tragic or disastrous fire occurring.

How to minimise the risk of fire

Take some time to look around your section and identify potential risks for the spread of fire.

  • Remove dangerous growth and other garden rubbish
  • Create a fire break between standing growth and your home and outbuildings.
  • Create a fire break between any reserves or empty sections adjoining your property
  • Ensure your firewood is stored safely away from the house.

Fire prevention

Avoid having any fires - Napier City Council discourages the burning of waste which can be recycled.

  • Household refuse should be put out for collection - once weekly for 2 refuse sacks.
  • Compost all garden waste where possible
  • Remove other garden prunings, unwanted shrubs etc to the Transfer Station. Share loads with neighbours to cut costs.

Necessary Burning

Where the need to burn is necessary enquire with the Council as to the requirements.

  • Obtain a permit supplied free of charge, if burning in the open air and follow the conditions.
  • Maintain a clear space of at least 3m from other combustible material
  • Keep the hose connected to the water supply
  • Maintain constant attendance at the fire Never burn in windy conditions and ensure fire is completely extinguished before nightfall.
  • Fires are not allowed during a prohibited fire season.

Note: No burning is permitted in urban areas which are any areas other than the rural zones as shown in the District Plan - for details consult the Fire Control Bylaw.


These also may be used without a permit.

  • Consider using a gas Bar-B-Que
  • Keep the hose connected to the water supply
  • Only gas Bar-B-Ques are allowed during a prohibited fire season.


Air is needed for anything to burn. Therefore make sure your incinerator is cleaned out before you start and keep all passages open for air to come through.

Light up with the driest and most combustible material. Burn in small amounts. Large objects will block the airflow - so break them up.

Dry wet materials before burning.

Heat is required to maintain burning. Use a lid to partly cover the top of the incinerator. This will deflect sparks and flying ash and help control the rate of combustion.

Install a 1.4m high chimney to facilitate the dispersal of smoke.

These may be used without a permit but all other safety requirements for burning in the open air apply.

  • Provide a close fitting lid to avoid the escape of sparks
  • Short, quick fires are best avoiding smoke pollution when the weather is suitable
  • Incinerators are now allowed during a prohibited fire season

Remember that incinerators are not permitted within the urban and suburban residential areas of Napier.


The use of fireworks in residential gardens is not recommended. This is even more so on the Napier Hill where fire-fighting in the event of an incident can be extremely difficult.

At Guy Fawkes it is recommended that you

  • Attend a community fireworks display or
  • Take the family to the beach and enjoy your display.

While bonfires on the beach are not permitted by Bylaw, we won't put a stop to small comfort fires made from drift wood.

Remember, if you do light a fire anywhere ensure it is attended until it is fully extinguished.

Child Safety

Teach your children the dangers of fire. Keep matches and lighters out of reach. Store flammables - garden mower or boat fuel in a safe locked place.

Backyard Fires

Burning rubbish is not an environmentally friendly way of refuse disposal. It is prohibited in urban areas of the City. Use other methods as much as possible.

RECYCLE - There is a fortnightly collection in the Napier area. Please use this service. Paper and cardboard, cans, plastic bottles and glass are collected by the HBEPB Recyclers.

COMPOST - Make compost with suitable refuse. This will benefit not only your garden, but your pocket too. Commercial garden waste collections are available at reasonable cost. You can find them in the yellow pages.

If you must burn rubbish

If you must burn rubbish follow the following rules.

Things not to burn:

Rubber, plastics, treated timber, painted wood, mattresses and carpets. These may produce toxic fumes.Aerosol cans - they may explode.Green grass or foliage - these produce large quantities of smoke and also emit toxic fumes.

Consider Your Neighbour

Smoke from your incinerator may aggravate medical conditions and annoy your neighbour. Avoid using your incinerator if the wind will blow the smoke over a neighbour's property.

Washing and wet paint are particularly susceptible to smoke - consult your neighbour before lighting your fire.

Make absolutely sure that:

  • Your incinerator is not close to anything combustible.
  • Adequate water supplies are available to put the fire out at any time - particularly when burning is finished for the day.
  • Your incinerator is not left unsupervised.
  • Unburnt scraps are not left in or around the incinerator.

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