QLDC to halt roadside mowing operations to reduce fire risk

lawnmower roadside ban
Jan 26, 2018

Queenstown Lakes District Council has today made the decision to halt all roadside mowing operations due to the high fire risk in place across the district.

Continued dry weather and hot temperatures have seen the fire danger increase across the Queenstown Lakes District, and the risk of sparks from mowing operations are now considered too high.

General Manager Property and Infrastructure, Peter Hansby says this is a common sense approach given the fire danger at present. “Mowing operations in the long grass on roadside verges has the potential to cause sparks if our machinery hits a rock, and in the current conditions that’s all that would be needed to start a fire which could have disastrous consequences.”

“Local fire authorities have responded to a number of fires in the last few weeks, including one at Jack’s Point last night that involved temporary evacuations. While we accept that halting mowing is a reduction in our levels of service, this simply isn’t a risk we’re willing to take until we get some significant rain.”

QLDC will be evaluating its mowing contracts for Council-owned parks and reserves and will halt any mowing operations it deems are high risk until conditions change.

Residents are also asked to make sure they take all necessary precautions to avoid inadvertently causing a fire on their properties, particularly if they have long dry grass.

The whole of Otago is currently under a prohibited fire season, which means no open air fires are permitted anywhere in Otago without a permit from Fire and Emergency New Zealand. This includes charcoal BBQs and wood fired pizza ovens.

Graeme Still, Otago Principal Rural Fire Officer says it’s important that people are aware of the fire danger at present. “The conditions across Otago are some of the driest we’ve seen in years and there is a very real danger of inadvertently starting a fire simply maintaining your property. Anyone should think twice about mowing their lawns or using any outdoor machinery that could create a spark, at least until after the next good rain. As for lighting a fire outside – don’t even think about it.”

For further information on how the current fire risk in the district, along with how you can reduce the risk of fire at home please see https://fireandemergency.nz/at-home/