Machinery checks encouraged

Fire and Emergency East Otago-Southland area fire risk management officer Scott Lanauze encourages machine operators to check for birds nesting in areas of machinery where heat is produced. PHOTO: ABBEY PALMER

MACHINERY users are being urged to inspect warm, sheltered areas where birds may nest to avoid fire risks this summer.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand [FENZ] data revealed Southland had experienced seven nesting-related fires in the past three months from birds building homes in areas where heat was produced.

FENZ East Otago-Southland area fire risk management officer Scott Lanauze said it was common for fires to occur in manifolds or radiators of machines such as tractors, ride-on lawnmowers, and quad bikes.

‘‘Generally, any item of machinery that provides access to an area of space within the extent of the item is a common nesting place.”

People needed to “remain vigilant” when completing pre-start machinery checks and to inspect any areas where birds had access, he said.

“Often it is a good idea to leave the bonnet or cowling of the machinery partially open when not in use.

“That way, birds are less likely to treat the confines as a safe area to nest, and it also reminds the operator to check the area prior to closing-up and starting the engine.”

It was also important to check after lunch and other breaks during work hours, he said.

“It doesn’t take long for a starling to start building a nest.”

Although warmer weather provided a higher risk of fire, bird nest fires occurred year-round, he said.

“Grass grows with some alacrity in ideal conditions and then dries out when the weather is hot and dry, leading to an increase in natural fuel levels and a higher likelihood of ignition should an ignition source be introduced.”

Due to the fire risk machinery could present, carrying a fire extinguisher when using an item of machinery was a “useful” tool, he said.

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