Talking with my friend and neighbor over coffee this morning, the subject came up that in spite of high winds and drought this past summer, we escaped with no real occurrence of wildfire to threaten our homes. Oh sure, there was smoke in the air and daily reports, not to mention pictures, of the extreme flames and wicked burning of the King Fire in California but no real danger close to home this year. “Just a run of good luck” my neighbor said shaking her head. “I know” I responded, “but one of these days our luck is going to run out and that smoke and those flames are going to be knocking on our doors.” Unfortunately, my friend has the same feeling as many others in the neighborhood: there is nothing we can do about wildfire. If it is going to burn, we will just deal with it when it happens. I quickly set her straight, telling her there is a lot we can do before we smell smoke and the embers start flying. But it’s going to take the whole neighborhood, everyone in the community to get in gear. “That will take some real effort,” she said as she headed for the door, “If you see a way I can help let me know.”
I thought about what she said and she was right of course, it will take some effort. But nothing worth doing is free from effort and right now, as winter approaches, is the perfect time to get this started. I know that as a community we are vulnerable to the devastation that accompanies wildfire. I don’t want anybody’s home to burn down, especially mine, and I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. I also know we are going to need help. I am no expert when it comes to fire and firefighting and I don’t know anyone who is. But, I bet right now, with the fire danger down, is a good time, maybe the best time, to call on my local fire department to give us a hand. I am certain they will have professionals that can give us advice on just how vulnerable we are and what we need to do to reduce the risk we face. And, there are no doubt experts from the Federal agencies that oversee the land around us that would also be willing to help out. But for that to happen, I know we must show that as a community of people we are ready to do our part. Wildfire is not like earthquakes and tornadoes. Unlike those disasters, there is a great deal we can do prior to the fire starting to affect the way the fire burns and increase our chance of survival. So, first I need to get a planning group of interested neighbors together and outline the steps we need to take to get this community energized and organized, perhaps joining the new Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities. I just learned about that at a conference held in October, and you can learn more here.
I’ll bet an invitation for dessert and coffee would bring some neighbors together and get us started. And, I am sure the folks at Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire Program would give us a hand. I need just a little more coffee and then… to the phone.