FAQs

Fire Permits

DO I NEED A PERMIT FOR A SPECIFIC TYPE OF FIRE IN MY LOCATION?

Go to the Check Rural Fire Season Status page on this website and click Check & Apply Now. Select the required Island, District and Zone from the dropdown lists to display the fire season status for your location. You can see if a permit is currently required for the location.

I HAVE TWO SEPARATE FARM BLOCKS BUT NEED TO BURN ON EACH LOCATION. DO I NEED TWO PERMITS OR JUST ONE?

This depends on circumstances such as the fire risk conditions and the proposed fire type. Once your application is submitted an assessment is made and you’ll be advised. If each burn is at a completely different address, this may require two applications.

HOW LARGE DOES MY FIRE HAVE TO BE BEFORE I NEED TO SUBMIT A BURN PLAN?

There is no standard size limit. You can apply for a fire permit, providing as much detail as possible, e.g. location, photos etc. so that the Rural Fire Officer can complete their assessment and discuss this with you.

WHAT DO I NEED A FIRE PERMIT FOR?

This can vary across districts, however in a restricted season you need a permit to light a fire in open air.

Open air fires include things such as:

  • camp fires
  • bonfires
  • rubbish fires
  • braziers

Authorised fire types that don’t need a fire permit during a restricted or prohibited season might include:

  • enclosed gas BBQs
  • charcoal BBQs
  • approved incinerators
  • permanent outdoor fireplaces
  • cultural fires, e.g. hangi or umu

Go to the Check Rural Fire Season Status page on this website and click Check & Apply Now. Select the required Island, District and Zone from the dropdown lists to display the information for your location.

DO I NEED A FIRE PERMIT FOR A FIRE IN AN URBAN AREA?

A fire permit may be needed from your local council if you're planning to light a fire in open air. This depends on the fire season status set by the council under its bylaws. You can check the fire season status on your council's website, or by calling them.

MY FIRE PERMIT EXPIRED LAST WEEK. CAN I STILL USE IT?

No. If there is a Restricted or Prohibited fire season in place, you'll need to apply for a new permit.

I HAVE A FIRE PERMIT THAT WAS APPROVED BEFORE 1 JULY 2017. IS IT STILL VALID?

Your permit may still be valid. Fire permits issued before 1 July 2017 under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 are valid until they expire.


Fire Permit Applications

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A PERMIT IN MY LOCATION?

Go to the checkitsalright.nz website and click Check & Apply Now.
Select the required Island, District and Zone from the dropdown lists to display the fire season status for your location. You can see if a permit is currently required. Click Apply for Permit to apply for a permit in your location.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR AN ANSWER ON MY PERMIT APPLICATION?

This can differ depending on how many permit applications are currently being processed in your area. If you'd like to check the status of your application you can contact Fire and Emergency on 0800 658 628.


Fire Seasons

WHAT IS FIRE IN THE OPEN AIR?

Any fire other than in:

  • a fireplace that is located in a building or structure that complies with any relevant requirement of the Building Act 2004 and the relevant district plan; or
  • a place or thing, or a type of place or thing, that is:
    • prescribed by regulations made under section 187 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017; or
    • authorised by Fire and Emergency.

WHAT IS THE FIRE SEASON IN MY LOCATION?

Go to the Check Rural Fire Season Status page on this website and click Check & Apply Now. Select the required Island, District and Zone from the dropdown lists to display the fire season status for your location.

WHAT DOES A RESTRICTED OR PROHIBITED FIRE SEASON MEAN?

Go to the Status Definitions page on this website to understand what each fire season means.

WHAT DOES AN OPEN SEASON MEAN?

Go to the Status Definitions page on this website to understand what each fire season means.

THE FIRE SEASON IN MY AREA IS OPEN EXCEPT FOR COASTAL AREAS. HOW FAR FROM THE COASTLINE IS STILL CONSIDERED TO BE A COASTAL AREA?

This can differ throughout the country. Locate your district and zone here and read what the restrictions are for your area.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF FIRE IN OPEN AIR IS PROHIBITED?

When fire in open air has been prohibited, any fire permits for that area are suspended for the duration of the prohibition.

A permit holder may reapply for a permit during the prohibition if they require a burn to prevent, reduce or overcome any hazard to life or because of any other serious emergency.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF ACTIVITIES ARE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED?

Fire and Emergency may prohibit or restrict an activity in a specific area, including access to the area, if it considers the activity may cause a fire to start or spread. 

Fire and Emergency can’t grant a fire permit for prohibited activities.


Fire in Rural Area

DO I NEED A FIRE PERMIT FOR A FIRE IN A RURAL AREA?

A fire permit may be needed from Fire and Emergency if you're planning to light a fire in open air. This depends on the rural fire season status. If there is a Restricted or Prohibited fire season in place, you'll need a permit to light a fire in open air. You can check the status definitions here and the current status for your location here.

HOW DO I MAKE A COMPLAINT ABOUT SMOKE FROM A FIRE IN A RURAL AREA?

If the smoke is causing a safety concern, please call 111, e.g. smoke across the road. If your complaint is about a smoke nuisance from a neighbouring property, please call your council or regional council’s pollution hotline.

WHY DOES MY FIRE PERMIT HAVE A CONDITION THAT SAYS I CAN’T BURN OUTSIDE DAYLIGHT HOURS?

This will generally be for two main reasons:

  1. There is a safety issue with monitoring a fire in the dark. If a fire outbreak occurred, it would cause safety concerns for the public and responders.
  2. Fires at night attract attention as they look much bigger than they are. They are more likely to result in emergency calls to 111 because it’s harder to determine if the situation is safe.

WHY CAN I NOT HAVE A FIRE ON THE BEACH WITHOUT A PERMIT?

Fires on the beach are very susceptible to wind changes throughout the day. Scrub-type vegetation that is commonly located by beaches is highly flammable. There are safety concerns for other members of the public. This also aims to protect surrounding properties, in case a fire was to escape.

IF FIRE AND EMERGENCY GRANTS ME A FIRE PERMIT DO I STILL HAVE TO COMPLY WITH COUNCIL BYLAWS OR REGIONAL COUNCIL REQUIREMENTS RELATING TO SMOKE NUISANCE FROM FIRES?

You still need to comply with any Council bylaws and Regional Council requirements relating to smoke nuisance and discharges to the air, even if you are issued with a fire permit by Fire and Emergency.

HOW DO I MAKE A COMPLAINT TO FIRE AND EMERGENCY ABOUT FIRE PERMITTING?

You can go to the Complaints and disputes section on the Fire and Emergency Contacts page and lodge a complaint or dispute.


Other

I USED TO GET RURAL FIRE PERMITS THROUGH MY LOCAL COUNCIL. WHY HAS THIS CHANGED?

On 1 July 2017 responsibility for issuing rural fire permits moved to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Depending on your location, some councils are continuing to accept applications for fire permits in rural areas on behalf of Fire and Emergency.

I'VE ALWAYS NEEDED A PERMIT IN THE PAST BUT I DON'T ANYMORE. WHY HAS THIS CHANGED?

Rural fire seasons are regularly reviewed and updated to match the fire risk conditions at the time. If the fire season status in your area is 'Open' you won't need a permit. You can check the current fire season for your location here.