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Are outdoor fireplaces banned in my area?

Are outdoor fireplaces banned in my area?

In this blog, we explain the limitations and various rules that may prevent you from installing an outdoor fireplace on your property.

  • NZ Building Code regulations
  • Fire permits and fire seasons
  • Council restrictions and exemptions

We also explain the key steps to follow to ensure your new fireplace is permitted in your local area. Read on for everything you need to know. 

Building Code 14.3 – Permanent outdoor fireplaces and ovens

According to the New Zealand Building Code, permanent outdoor fireplaces and ovens must be built and used according to the following criteria: 

  • Located a minimum of 1 metre away from combustible objects.
  • Users should always follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions.
  • Gas-burning outdoor fireplaces or ovens must be installed by an authorised Gasfitter.
  • Freestanding fireplaces or ovens must be anchored and restrained as outlined in supplier/manufacturer instructions.

What needs consent?

Outdoor fireplaces with the following characteristics or environmental features will require consent: 

  • An outdoor fireplace that will be attached to the existing dwelling or a shed.
  • An outdoor fireplace where the surface fire or cooking area of the fireplace exceeds 1 square metre.
  • An outdoor fireplace that will be installed in a roofed space.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand regulations

To reduce the risk of unwanted fire and manage public safety, Fire and Emergency New Zealand enforce location-specific fire plans. These outline relevant triggers for declaring various fire seasons, prohibiting and restricting fire use, and issuing fire permits.

To determine if you need a fire permit at the time of lighting your fire, input your location into this online tool. This will indicate which fire season you are currently in and what your next course of action should be. 

Fire seasons New Zealand

Fire and Emergency can declare or revoke a prohibited or restricted fire season in an area.

Fire seasons are applied to geographic zones based on the surrounding environment, climatic zones, topographical boundaries/features, and fire control considerations. The three fire seasons include open, restricted, and prohibited:

Open fire season

Fires may be lit in the open air, without restriction. This automatically applies when there is not a prohibited or restricted fire season in place.

Restricted fire season

In these conditions, lighting a fire is riskier than usual. A fire permit is required for most fire types and may also have specific conditions to make sure fires can be safely lit and remain under control.

Prohibited fire season

Lighting open-air fires is not permitted. Existing fire permits are suspended, though fire permits may still be granted in exceptional circumstances. Changes are still being finalised for this so that open outdoor fires can be lit any time of year, providing certain rules are met.

Regardless of the fire season, you always need to comply with safety guidelines, council bylaws, and regional council requirements relating to smoke nuisance and discharges to the air. This applies even if you are issued with a fire permit from Fire and Emergency.

Please note that, while it's allowed to build an outdoor fireplace just 1 metre from your property boundary, your fire permit may demand a minimum distance of 3 meters before you can light it. 

Council consents for fire restrictions

Since 2020, additional building consent exemptions were added to the Building Act which means you no longer need consent for an outdoor fireplace built up to a maximum height of 2.5 metres and with a maximum cooking surface of 1 square metre.

To meet the exemption criteria, the structure must meet all of the following:

  • Be at least 1 metre away from any legal boundary or building,
  • Be lower than 2.5 metres,
  • Be more than 1 metre from the boundary,
  • And have less than 1 square metre of cooking area.
  • Ensure your fire is installed in an acceptable way that smoke wont be a nuisance to your neighbours

If your fireplace is taller than 2.5 metres high or has a larger cooking surface than 1 square metre, we recommend speaking with an expert. Consent exemptions and restrictions can be complex so it helps to have an industry expert to guide you. 

Cooking grill exemptions

In several regions, including Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Otago, and Canterbury, you are not allowed an open fire. However, you are allowed an open-fire cooking structure. Our outdoor fireplaces are available with a cooking grill, which changes its classification to a wood-fired BBQ, which is allowed. 

The Trendz swinging cooking grill is designed with effective outdoor cooking in mind, offering a safe and accessible option. You can grill everything from delicious appetisers to full-blown meals and it’s easy to remove when not in use. 

How to comply with outdoor fireplace rules

We recommend completing the following steps before installing an outdoor fireplace or pizza oven: 

  1. Ensure your fireplace meets all Building Code requirements (see above).
  2. Talk to your supplier (Trendz Outdoors), landscaper, or architect. 
  3. Consider choosing a fireplace design with a cooking grill (if your council has the cooking grill exemption mentioned above).
  4. If you have 1 metre of hearth, 500mm on each side, and a cap on top of your fireplace, you can light it anywhere.
  5. Each time you light the fire, check your current fire season first.

Having handled thousands of fireplace deliveries across the country, we know this process in and out. If you have any questions or are unsure about the consent requirements feel free to contact a member of the team using the button below. We’re more than happy to help.

Click here to contact the team today!

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