Fire risk from fire in adjacent sections/reserves

Wildfires are a growing risk in New Zealand. In the Port Hills wildfires of 2017, nine homes were completely lost and five others damaged. Insurance payouts cost $17.7 million. Fortunately the 2019 Wakefield fires only destroyed one dwelling likely due to the location of the fire, but it could have been much worse with a wind change.

Causes

Lawns are not regularly mowed or section is overgrown 

Accumulation of rubbish adjacent to building 

Planting too close to house in an area of potential fire danger, such as close to forest plantation, bush reserve or extensive gorse


Listed under: Section

Cause

Lawns are not regularly mowed or section is overgrown 

Repair

  • reduce the amount of combustible plants or materials on your land close to the boundary. For example, consider replacing toetoe plants (which can catch fire easily in dry weather) with a plant that burns less easily

  • have a water hose connected to an outside tap readily available

  • have polite discussions if possible with the owner. Make them aware of the condition of their land, the fire risk it represents to you and ask if they can take action to reduce the fire risk. (The law requires occupiers of land to take reasonable steps to remove dangerous conditions on their land)

  • if the owner won’t cooperate or you can’t contact the owner, contact your local council to intervene.

Cause

Accumulation of rubbish adjacent to building 

Repair

  • as above

Cause

Planting too close to house in an area of potential fire danger, such as close to forest plantation, bush reserve or extensive gorse

Repair

  • reduce the amount of combustible plants or materials on your land close to the boundary. For example, consider replacing toetoe plants (which can catch fire easily in dry weather) with a plant that burns less easily

  • have a water hose connected to a tap readily available

  • fix gutter guards to spouting to prevent dry leaves from collecting in spouting

  • cover roof vents with wire mesh

  • do not store combustible material in an open subfloor space. If the storage is important, consider closing in the subfloor (considering the impact this may have on subfloor moisture)

  • if fire risk is high or extreme sometimes, consider installing a large water storage tank or even a pool as a source of firefighting water

  • use toughened glass in windows

  • avoid uPVC cladding or gutters/downpipes

  • treat exposed timber with a fire retardant.

    If designing or renovating a house in this situation, avoid roof valleys and opt for sloped rather than flat roofs. Specify a metal roof or fully sarked concrete tile roof. Refer to Australian Standard AS 3959 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas for more guidance, and see the Australian web resources on Bushfire resistant design, Landscaping for bushfire and Protecting your property from bushfires.