Fire Service to get new powers under proposed law

7:19 pm on 6 January 2017

It could soon be an offence not to show a fire permit on request and the Fire Service could be allowed to enter private properties to remove fire risks.

A firefighter on scene at an incident. 6 July 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The recommendations are in a Select Committee report on the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill.

The bill would establish a single unified organisation called Fire and Emergency New Zealand, or FENZ.

People can light campfires in restricted fire seasons provided they have a permit, but the changes would make it an offence if someone failed to produce their permit on request.

The Department of Conservation said earlier this week the problem of people flouting fire restrictions on conservation land was getting worse.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said making it an offence to not produce a fire permit on request would act as a deterrent to people thinking about flouting the law.

He said a lot of the work of the Fire Service was preventative as well as operational and giving special power to the organisation was a step in the right direction.

"I think a lot of people are unaware of the fact that they probably need to have a permit now and this makes it a little bit more explicit and by saying if you can't produce your permit you're committing an offence again just adds a fresh incentive on them to do the right thing."

The select committee also wants the new organisation to be able to remove things posing a fire risk, such as vegetation, from private property and to be able to issue infringement notices.

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