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Plan B ... Knapdale farm worker Shane Horrell has a water supply handy in case the stubble fire lit by farmer Blair McKenzie gets out of control. Knapdale farmer Blair McKenzie said fire permits were great to work with. ``It's a good tool to have rather than just cultivating all the time,'' Mr McKenzie said. The key to a good burn was making sure the straw was completely dead. ``Burning under the right conditions _ especi ally at this time of the year it's important. ``It's about making sure you have resources on hand,'' he said. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) is reminding people to obtain fire permits before lighting outdoor fires after an increase in vegetation fires.

Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Steve Lee said between March 2 and last Wednesday the Gore brigade and surrounding brigades attended more than 12 vegetation fires.

“We’ve had some really close calls recently which were exceedingly close to dwellings.”

Out-of-control fires could cause significant damage, Mr Lee said.

“We need to remember the large amount of resources and volunteers which would be required if a fire was to get significantly out of control.”

Fenz Otago-Southland community engagement adviser rural Sally Chesterfield said people should think twice before starting a fire.

“Especially in the weather we’ve had lately – it’s been very hot and dry, making them harder to control.”

She said she wanted people to gain permits before lighting fires to keep everybody safe.

”That’ the reason they [fires] have got out of control – because people don’t have permits.”

Ensuring the weather and the area where a fire would be lit were suitable was vital.

“How you light up a fire, the method you use to start it up, and the time of day is important.

“Make sure you have resources available to escape if need be,” Ms Chesterfield.

Creating a fire break by breaking up the ground around the fire to a distance of between 2m and 5m was recommended.

“Breaking up the ground by disking it up creates a barrier. It minimises the risk of transfer of fire.”

Ms Chesterfield reminded the community all firefighters in the area were volunteers.

“They drop their tools on their farms and stop their own work to deal with other people’s fires.”

The Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade would host an opening day for the community to attend on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.

For more information about fire permits contact Fire and Emergency NZ on 0800 658-628 or go online to www.fireandemergency.nz