Fire and Emergency New Zealand urges households, lifestyle block owners and landowners not to burn outdoor fires during lockdown, to save firefighters having to respond to calls from anxious neighbours and break their COVID-19 bubbles.
Fire and Emergency has responded to more than 98 calls involving fires in Auckland since lockdown kicked in last Wednesday. Eight were vegetation fires, 52 were building fires, and 38 were other fires such as rubbish fires - which are illegal in Auckland.
While Aucklanders may be keen to take advantage of lockdown to tidy up their garden and enjoy their backyard, they should refrain from burning garden waste or lighting any outdoor fires, regardless of whether a fire permit has been granted.
Principal Rural Fire Officer Thomas Harre says it puts firefighters at risk during lockdown because each brigade is a bubble under the organisation’s strict COVID-19 protocol. Every time firefighters attend an incident they risk compromising their bubbles.
Even controlled burning that may be permitted during normal times could lead to unwanted calls and unnecessary responses by brigades.
"Other people may not know and still call 111 when they see smoke. Our crews are committed to protecting our communities during lockdown and they will respond. I ask the public to show firefighters kindness during lockdown by being considerate of their health and safety," Thomas Harre says.
Waitemata Area Manager Murray Binning also urges Aucklanders to pay attention to fire safety inside their homes.
Unattended cooking, and heaters placed too close to flammable materials are some of the common causes of house fires.
"A house fire can kill in less than 3 minutes. People should make sure they have working smoke alarms in their house and have an escape plan so that they can get out fast," Murray Binning says.
Escape plans can be made on www.escapemyhouse.co.nz.