Volunteer firefighters frustrated as fire ban rules ignored

The disregard of fire restrictions is frustrating volunteer firefighters in a Waikato town, who say it is impacting on families and employers in the district.

There is a total fire ban in place in the Waipa district, including Te Awamutu which also has severe water restrictions in place.

However the local fire brigade said it was coping with a higher number of callouts than usual, as people ignored the rules.

On a Facebook post, the Te Awamutu volunteer fire brigade appealed for residents to take more care.

"We have been to 100 Callouts in 2020!

"We are still in a TOTAL FIRE BAN both in town and country, so are all our neighbouring brigades," it said.

The continuous callouts were taking their toll on the local community.

"100% Volunteer means our families and employers are feeling it as well."

While there had been some rain in the region, it was not enough to lift the fire risk across the parched region.

"We are a 100 percent volunteer fire brigade and we are all about serving our community, however we get tired of people lighting fires in such dry conditions and putting people and properties at risk," said one member of the brigade on a community Facebook page.

The callouts were also using much-needed water for the town, she said.

 "Te Awamutu is on water level 4 and unfortunately when someone lights a fire we need to tap into our limited water supply."

More rain was expected across much of the North Island between today and next Monday.

However NIWA principal forecasting scientist Chris Brandolino told RNZ that the soil was twice as dry as usual for this time of year.

"In order to recover from drought we need to have multiple rounds of rain over multiple days, probably over multiple weeks. You don't want 100 millimetres of rain in one go," said Brandolino.

Waikato is one of a number of regions across the country which has had drought conditions classified as an adverse event by the Agriculture Minister.