Part 3: Fire Prevention

Contents

1. Interpretation
2. Fires allowed without Council permission
3. Fires that require Council permission
4. General conditions for lighting outdoor fires in all areas at all times
5. Total fire ban during periods of extreme fire risk
6. Live ash or smouldering substances
7. Process for obtaining Council’s written permission
8. Council powers to extinguish fire
9. Offences

This part of the bylaw controls activities that may become a fire hazard. The purpose of the bylaw is to minimise the potential fire risk arising from uncontrolled fires and to address public safety concerns and nuisance concerns. The bylaw does not address fire safety requirements for building construction, as these are covered by the Building Act 2004.

The bylaw is specifically limited to those areas that are not part of a rural fire district pursuant to the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977. This bylaw therefore regulates activities in predominantly urban areas. A map showing the rural fire district is available from the Council. A permit for a fire in the rural fire district must be sought from the Wellington Rural Fire Authority.

This amended bylaw replaces the previous Wellington City Consolidated Bylaw 2008: Part 3 (Fire Prevention) and is introduced pursuant to section 145 of the Local Government Act 2002. It does not replace the statutory provisions relating to fire prevention, which should be read in conjunction with this bylaw. Further details on those statutory provisions are provided at the end of this part of the bylaw.

Adopted 16 December 2015.

1. Interpretation

In this part of the bylaw, unless inconsistent with the context, or where otherwise expressly provided:

"Barbeque" means any fixed or portable device (electric, gas, wood or charcoal fired burning equipment) designed and/or intended for the cooking of food outside.

"Combustible material" means a substance or material that is able to catch fire and burn. It may include overgrown vegetation, hay, timber and sawdust.

"Council permission" means written permission obtained from the Council as set out in clause 7, prior to undertaking the fire activity ".

"Incinerator" means any non-flammable container, receptacle or apparatus designed and/or intended for the disposal of combustible materials by burning.

"Non-combustible material" means any substance of a fire-resistant nature able to contain combustion or the burning of fuel.

"Nuisance" means, in relation to an “outdoor fire device”, smoke or ash that may be offensive or objectionable beyond the property boundary where the “outdoor fire device” is being operated.

"Occupier" means, in relation to any land, the owner and includes any tenant, agent, manager, foreperson or other person apparently acting in the general management or control of the land.

"Outdoor fire" is any fire lit within the urban fire district, other than in a dwelling or other enclosed building that has a building consent.

"Outdoor fire device" means any non-combustible receptacle, appliance or device designed or intended to be used in the outdoors for cooking, heating or amenity that contains combustion or the burning of fuel and may include barbecues, smokers, braziers, chimenias*, pizza ovens and other like devices but excludes “incinerators”.

"Public place" means any place that, at any material time, is open to or is being used by the public, whether free or on payment of a charge, and whether an owner or occupier of the place is lawfully entitled to exclude or eject any person from that place; and includes any aircraft, hovercraft, ship or ferry or other vessel, train, or vehicle carrying or available to carry passengers for reward.

"Rural fire district" means land constituted under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 as a rural fire district.

"Total fire ban" means a fixed or indefinite period of time, fixed by the Council under clause 5 of this bylaw, when the lighting of outdoor fires is prohibited.

"Urban area" means any land, public or private, within the urban fire district.

"Urban fire district" means land constituted under the Fire Service Act 1975 as an urban fire district.

"Vegetation" means

  1. all plants and the produce thereof, live or dead, standing, fallen, windblown, cut, broken, pulverised, sawn or harvested, natural or disturbed in use or as waste, debris, stump, stubble or otherwise
  2. fossil fuel exposed at or lying within 20 metres of the surface of any land
  3. peat in any form
  4. but does not include wood forming part of a structure or otherwise in processed form.

Note: Any explanatory note is for information purposes only and does not form part of this bylaw. They may be made, amended or removed without formal process. The Interpretation Act 1999 applies to this bylaw.

*A terracotta oven with an open mouth fire compartment and chimney.

2. Fires allowed without Council permission

2.1 Subject to any total fire ban in place under clause 5 of this bylaw an outdoor fire may be lit:

  1. on private land, provided the fire is contained in an outdoor fire device,
  2. in a public place, provided the fire is contained in an outdoor fire device that is fuelled by gas or charcoal, and subject to any restrictions on the use of the public place.

2.2 Any such fire in an outdoor fire device must at all times comply with the requirements in clause 4 of this bylaw, and:

  1. be no closer than 1 metre to any boundary, fence, road or structure, and,
  2. have flames no taller than 1.5 metres, and
  3. be located or positioned
    1. on non-combustible material, or
    2. have a non-combustible layer between the fire and any combustible surface.

3. Fires that require Council permission

3.1 Subject to clause 3.2 of this bylaw, the following fires will require Council's prior written permission:

  1. All outdoor fires in public places (excluding gas or charcoal fuelled under clause 2.1b of this bylaw)
  2. All outdoor fires on private land that are not in an outdoor fire device, including those used for cooking (such as hangi and umu) and fires for special events (for example, cultural and community events). Where the outdoor fire is for the purpose of burning vegetation or disposing of combustible materials, it will only be given Council permission where:
    1. there are special circumstances which make such permission necessary and/or
    2. there are no other suitable, reasonably practicable, alternative ways to dispose of the material.

3.2 In addition to any conditions imposed in a Council permission, any outdoor fire authorised by a Council permission, must at all times comply with the requirements in clause 4, and

  1. be no closer than 1 metre to any boundary, fence, road or structure, and,
  2. have a diameter not exceeding three metres
  3. have no active burning after the hours of sunset or before the hours of sunrise.

4. General conditions for lighting outdoor fires in all areas at all times

4.1 A person must not light, or allow to remain alight, any outdoor fire in any of the following circumstances:

  1. Where the location, wind, or other conditions, cause, or are likely to cause the outdoor fire to become:
    1. a danger to any person or property; or
    2. out of control or to spread beyond the limits of the property on which the fire is lit; or
    3. a smoke or ash nuisance to any person or property; or
    4. a hazard to road traffic.
  2. Within the proximity of any combustible materials such as a building, structure, fence or vegetation that may cause or be likely to cause a fire hazard, unless the fire is contained within an outdoor fire device that:
    1. is fuelled by gas
    2. or contains all embers and sparks.
  3. Without adequate supervision being maintained at all times;
  4. Without an appropriate means of fire suppression being available.

4.2 Every person who lights an outdoor fire must ensure the outdoor fire is totally extinguished on completion of the activity.

5. Total fire ban during periods of extreme fire risk

5.1 The Council or Chief Executive Officer may make, amend or revoke a total fire ban in any specified part or parts of Wellington to minimise the risk of the start or spread of fire, during periods of extreme fire risk. The ban may be in place for a fixed or indefinite period.

5.2 A person must not light, or allow to be lit, any outdoor fire when a total fire ban is in place, unless that fire is on private land and contained within an outdoor fire device that:

  1. is fuelled by gas; or
  2. contains all embers and sparks.

5.3 A person may apply to the Council for a permit to light an outdoor fire during a total fire ban, if the outdoor fire (on private or public land) is required as part of a significant community or cultural event; or the most effective means to reduce a fire hazard; or the most effective means to reduce any other hazard to life, health, property or the environment, or special circumstances exist.

5.4 The Council shall notify any total fire ban by public notice in a newspaper circulated in the location to which the ban relates. The Council may also erect signage.

6. Live ash or smouldering substances

6.1 A person must not place or dispose of any live ash, cinders, embers or any other smouldering substance on any land except when:

  1. contained in a non-combustible receptacle so as to prevent the transmission of fire or heat to any combustible material; or 
  2. in a pit on private land, which will prevent the spread of fire or heat by the action of wind or otherwise.

7. Process for obtaining Council’s written permission

7.1 The process for obtaining Council’s prior written permission is set out in Part 1: Introduction of the Wellington City Consolidated Bylaw 2008.

7.2 Any application made to the Council must include all information required by Council, be on any form prescribed by the Council and be accompanied by any fee prescribed by the Council.

7.3 On receiving and reviewing an application the Council may grant or decline written permission at its sole discretion.  If it grants written permission, it may do so subject to any conditions it sees fit (including, but not limited to, the duration of the written permission, the power to suspend or revoke a written permission and the power to review the written permission and its conditions).

7.4 Any written permission from the Council is personal to the holder and the property. It is not transferrable.

8. Council powers to extinguish fire

8.1 Where an outdoor fire has been lit or allowed to burn in breach of any part or parts of this bylaw, the Council may direct the occupier of the land where the outdoor fire is located and/or the person(s) who lit the outdoor fire, to immediately extinguish the fire.

8.2. Where a property owner or occupant has received an instruction under clause 8.1 of this bylaw and refuses to immediately follow that instruction, or there is no-one present in the vicinity of the fire, the Council may extinguish the fire.

8.3. Where an outdoor fire has been extinguished pursuant to clause 8.2, the Council may recover any costs it incurred in attending, containing and/or extinguishing the fire from the owner of the property on which the outdoor fire was located and/or from any person who lit, fuelled or allowed the fire to remain alight.

8.4. Council powers under this clause may be delegated to the New Zealand Fire Service by mutual agreement.

9. Offences

9.1. Everyone commits an offence who:

  1. carries out any activity before obtaining written permission as required by this part of the bylaw
  2. carries out any activity in breach of any condition or requirement of the written permission issued under this part of the bylaw
  3. fails to comply with any notice or instruction issued under this part of the bylaw
  4. carries out any activity that is prohibited by clause 6.1.

Note: In addition to statutory provisions relating to fire safety and prevention in the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977, the Building Act 2004 and the Fire Service Act 1975, the following provisions of the Local Government Act 2002 should be read together with this bylaw: