The purpose of the Rural Fire activity is defined in the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1997:
- Issuing fire permits for lighting fires in the open.
- Monitoring the fire risk and determining when it is too hazardous to light fires in the open.
- Determining the fire season for the West Coast (and when permits are required).
- Education and training of rural fire forces.
- Maintaining an operative Fire Plan, weather stations and a West Coast wide fire danger warning system.
- Fighting and putting out wild fires and other types of fires that get out of control in the open (assisted by the New Zealand Service Urban Volunteer Brigade).
Fire permits for fires in the open are required all year round - this recognises the variability of Coast weather. They can be obtained from Council offices free of charge.
The overall responsibility for forest and rural fires on the Coast sits with the West Coast Rural Fire Authority(WCRFA), of which Council is a paying and contributing member. See more about the WCRFA below.
Council provides fire suppression support through contractors and staff and maintains rural fire fighting plant and equipment at Greymouth (including a 14,000 litre water tanker located at Moana) and is part owner of a monsoon bucket which is located at a helicopter hanger at the Greymouth Airport. P F Olsens (Forestry Company) also maintains firefighting plant at Greymouth, as well as the Department of Conservation, who has plant at Greymouth and other centres throughout the West Coast.
The total Rural Fire Zone area managed by Council within the Grey District and the total extent of area compared to the total West Coast Fire District is shown below:
Volunteer Urban Fire Services operate and assist under the New Zealand Fire Service. Volunteer brigades are located in:
- Taylorville (auxiliary brigade)
|Grey District Total Area||350,900ha|
|West Coast Rural Fire Zone||2,272,850ha|
|Grey District Council Rural Fire Zone||263,900ha|
|Buller District Council Rural Fire Zone||217,800ha|
|Westland District Council Rural Fire Zone||70,150ha|
|Department of Conservation Rural Fire Zone||1,721,000|
West Coast Rural Fire Authority
Council contributes to delivery of Principal Rural Fire Officer (PRFO) Services, currently supplied through the New Zealand Fire Service. The PRFO coordinates and manages all activities relating to rural fires on the West Coast, including being proactive in ongoing training for rural fire fighters.
The overall responsibility for Forest and Rural Fires on Coast sits with the West Coast Rural Fire Authority (WCRFA) which has board members appointed or recommended by the Department of Conservation (DOC), the three Territorial Authorities (Buller, Grey and Westland District Councils), Forest owners and the New Zealand Fire Service. The PRFO reports to the WCRFA. The WCRFA is assisted and is partially funded by the National Rural Fire Authority.