With Covid-19 effectively cancelling the annual meeting of the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), this year’s event was conducted by teleconferencing.
As a result of the increase and subsequent emergency callouts, Fire and Emergency (FENZ) is asking people to stop burning.
National Manager Community Readiness and Recovery Steve Turek says FENZ will respond to all emergencies but is asking people to do their bit to minimise the risk of fire and the number of avoidable call outs for firefighters.
"Between 23 March and 22 April, we responded to nearly 750 preventable rubbish fires - more than double the number for the same period last year when we responded to nearly 390 rubbish fires,” he says.
"Even if a fire is permitted and under control, the smoke often generates a 111 call from well-meaning members of the public."
Turek says every time this happens; firefighters need to leave their isolation bubble and risk potential exposure to COVID-19.
"During Alert Level 3 New Zealanders are being asked to stay vigilant and continue following the Government’s advice to keep themselves and others safe."
FENZ is asking people to consider alternatives to lighting fires and holding off from rubbish fires, garden waste fires, and controlled burn offs – unless it is for an essential industry (for example crop farmers).
“If you think your fire is essential and you’ve applied for a permit, please be patient. During COVID-19 Alert level 3 it may take longer than usual for permit applications to be processed. And when you do burn, burn safely.”
People can find out more at www.checkitsalright.nz