The Department of Conservation (DOC) works to prevent and manage fires in state areas (public conservation land), and issues fire permits.
DOC's fire-management responsibilities
DOC is responsible for preventing and managing fires in state areas, where they are not included in rural fire districts.
State areas can include national parks, conservation parks, scenic, scientific, or recreation reserves, and special purpose reserves for the management of wildlife.
The DOC fire team is made up of staff and volunteers who are backcountry trained and equipped to fight fires in rural areas.
DOC staff are well-trained and well-equipped; they often serve as leaders and models for other rural fire services both nationally and internationally.
Why DOC fights fires
Wild fires can put lives at risk, destroy property, and devastate natural areas. Fire poses a serious risk to public conservation land and their natural, cultural, historical and recreational values.
If a fire occurs, putting it out takes priority over all other work. During periods of high to extreme fire danger, DOC staff carry their fire kits where ever they are working so they can respond to a fire call.
Fire permits needed for all public conservation land
You must get a written fire permit from DOC to light any fire in the open on public conservation land.
In some cases you need a permit for a fire within 1 km of this land. Call your local DOC office and they can help you work out whether your fire site falls within the 1 km fire margin around public conservation land.
How do I get a fire permit?
Contact your local DOC office.
A fire ban, or prohibited fire season, is declared when conditions are such that any fire is likely to put life and property at risk. During a prohibited fire season, no fires can be lit in the open air and all fire permits are cancelled.
DOC fire staff calculate the daily fire danger. They use weather patterns and conditions to predict the likelihood of a fire occurring, and, if it does occur, how difficult it will be to manage. They monitor wind, rainfall, relative humidity and other indicators via remote weather stations scattered throughout the countryside, and this enables them to calculate the fire risk.
For more information: National Rural Fire Authority website
What should I do if I see a wildfire?
Most fires are due to carelessness; either when permitted or non-permitted fires get out of control, or when a campfire is not fully put out before leaving a campsite.
You can be held personally liable for the costs of fighting a rural fire, if you are proved responsible for causing it.
The weather plays a major role in how many fires start, how intense they are, the damage done and how difficult they are to extinguish.
The key legislation relating to rural fire management is the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977, the Regulations 2005 of the Act, the Fire Service Act 1975, and any amendments to these.