Carson City’s Wellington Crescent subdivision was threatened by the Waterfall Fire in 2004. Elements of a Fire Adapted Community, including a community fuelbreak, good access, ignition-resistant building construction and defensible landscapes all helped ensure that no homes or lives were lost.

Carson City’s Wellington Crescent subdivision was threatened by the Waterfall Fire in 2004. Elements of a Fire Adapted Community, including a community fuelbreak, good access, ignition-resistant building construction and defensible landscapes all helped ensure that no homes or lives were lost.

Dr. Elwood Miller helps you understand the question: What is a Fire Adapted Community?

 

As coordinator of the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities, I keep hearing the questions, “What is a Fire Adapted Community?” and “How do you become one?” These questions keep coming up in conferences, small group meetings and individual conversations. By now, numerous definitions have been developed which undoubtedly leads to more confusion and more questions.  Rather than develop yet another definition, I thought a focus on the core concepts may be more helpful.  At the heart of the term, Fire Adapted Community is a mission of survival; survival of people and the place they call home.  And, not only survival, but survival achieved with a minimum involvement of firefighters and their suppression resources. But, how is that possible?  The answer is pre-fire preparation.  In other words, a Fire Adapted Community is one that is fully prepared for the occurrence of wildfire.  It is one where a community of like-minded residents has worked to instill a culture of fire in their community.  It is one where the people have envisioned what it will be like when flames, blowing embers and smoke surround their homes and envelope their neighborhoods and they have mentally prepared themselves for that occurrence.  They have fully accepted their vulnerability and have developed plans to take the steps necessary to ensure their survival.  More than that, they have also taken action to modify their house and the fuels that surround it to make it as difficult as possible for fires to ignite, grow and spread.  In doing this they not only increase the probability that they and their home will survive but they also greatly increase the element of safety for the firefighters that do arrive to provide assistance. Create unity with pre-fire preparation that is broadly accepted, supported, and applied.  That is the key to becoming a Fire Adapted Community. Detailed information on what you need to do, and how to prepare your home and community for wildfire is available at LivingWithFire.info.  Join the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities to connect with others facing the same vulnerability and seeking to increase their chances of survival.  Being fully prepared is what being fire adapted is all about.

Last week a brush fire burned near one of my favorite campgrounds. Fire crews were able to quickly contain the blaze and campers were only evacuated for a short time. I thought getting rained out of my July camping trip was a bummer… yikes! What stuck with me was how close another wildfire had been to my home. After all, the reason why those particular campgrounds are some of my favorites is because they’re just a quick trip from my driveway.

When I shared my concerns with my neighbor, she told me how reassured she was that she’d signed up for our county’s emergency notification system. In the event of an emergency in our area, she’ll receive a message that will let her know what’s going on.

I have to admit, I assumed I would be notified automatically.  Now I know that this is not the case, especially since I don’t have a land line.  Thanks to my recent discussion with an emergency services dispatcher, I know what goes on behind the scenes when someone calls 911 to report a fire. (Read that blog article here.)  It makes sense that emergency services would need to know how to get ahold of me to tell me if a fire or other type of emergency threatened my home and family.

A quick google search brought up Washoe County’s emergency management homepage and directed me to sign up for the Code Red system. It was very simple for me to enter my address, cell phone number and email address for emergency notification purposes. I can receive the messages via call and text, and was able to set up a password for my account to adjust my information if it changes in the future.

In their publication, Fire Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness, Living With Fire addresses emergency notification systems. Apparently several Nevada counties use different emergency notification systems that can contact community members similarly to how the Code Red system will contact me. The publication encourages homeowners to enter multiple forms of contact information if the database will allow. If a landline is the only number the database will call, a homeowner may not receive the notification if the power is down or if they’re not home. Check with your county’s emergency management department, local fire department or sheriff’s office to see if there is an emergency notification system being used in your county, and to find out how you can sign up.

I feel so relieved after signing up. I understand that no system is perfect, but I’m glad I have another way to keep apprised of emergencies in my area.

Natalie Newcomer