Rural Fire Authority
Ashburton District Council is a Rural Fire Authority and is responsible for ensuring the functions of the Forest & Rural Fires Act 1977 are carried out in rural areas within the district, other than on Crown land.
Fires on Crown land (typically conservation land and riverbeds) within the Ashburton District are controlled by the Department of Conservation (DOC) who have a restricted season 365 days a year.
Any land owner who wishes to burn within 1km of land controlled by DOC is required to obtain a permit from them.
Rural Fire Management
The Council appoints a Principal Rural Fire Officer who is responsible for ensuring that the necessary management functions are in place. This includes actions to reduce the risk of and severity of fire, and monitoring the fire danger on a daily basis during the fire season. Other key tasks include ensuring preparedness by having available a fire suppression capability to efficiently manage rural fires.
Council has ninevolunteer rural fire forces in Ashburton, Willowby, Hinds, Mayfield, Mt Somers, Pendarves, Lauriston, Alford Forest and Rakaia Gorge (Glenaan Station).
Map of the Fire Unit Locations within the Ashburton District
There are approximately 160 volunteer firefighters within these units. Council also owns and maintains tankers based at Volunteer Fire Brigade stations at Ashburton, Methven and Rakaia.
A Memorandum of Understanding between all Canterbury Rural Fire Authorities provides for cross boundary assistance in the form of resources and personnel in the event of large scale fires.
There are also arrangements in place with other fire suppression providers if required, including aerial fire fighting capacity through the use of helicopters and monsoon buckets.
Rural Fire Plan
Each year the Ashburton District Council reviews the Rural Fire Plan. This plan is a statement of fire control policy, chain of command and procedures by the Rural Fire Authority. Rural Fire Authorities are required by the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 to have an operational fire plan.
The fire plan includes Action for Emergency, preparedness procedures, information on personnel and equipment, a command structure, standing instructions/procedures for various aspects of rural fire.
The Cost of Fighting Fires
Legislation clearly states that any person responsible for lighting a fire is liable for the cost of suppression and any damage caused by that fire.
All people who are responsible for lighting fires should ensure they have adequate public liability insurance.