Tahoe Chief’s Corner: The importance of Tahoe’s mutual aid agreements | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Chief’s Corner: The importance of Tahoe’s mutual aid agreements

Michael Schwartz
Chief’s Corner

Michael Schwartz

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Welcome to a new edition of "Chief's Corner," a feature that starting this week will also publish in the Sierra Sun, building off the long-running guest column of the same name that's published the last couple years in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.

That article has been historically authored by the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District's chief. This week, we are expanding the column to include articles authored by other fire chiefs from around the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region.

In this week's article, we are focusing on community cooperation — "we are better together." Every community has certain natural and manmade hazards, and the Tahoe Basin is no different.

Experts in various fields strive to identify these hazards, and emergency services managers work to develop response and mitigation strategies.

“As community members, we all need to work together to keep our community safe, our forest healthy and our lake clear.”

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Whether you are visiting for the day or have lived here for decades, you are residing in a high-Sierra environment that is prone to rapidly changing weather and extreme seasonal variations, which, combined with the Lake Tahoe Basin's unique landscape, makes for myriad potential hazards.

Your local fire agencies have programs and materials for community members and visitors to assist in developing a personal, family or business emergency preparedness and evacuation plan.

I urge you to avail yourselves of these valuable local resources. As community members, we all need to work together to keep our community safe, our forest healthy and our lake clear.

Just as the local community does, the fire service also has a long history of neighbor helping neighbor, though mutual aid agreements that grew into automatic aid agreements and the more contemporary boundary drop agreements.

Boundary drop agreements ensure that you get the closest resources — fire engines, ambulances or other emergency responses, regardless of geographic or political boundaries.

This provides the greatest level of emergency services in the most efficient manner. Fire spread shows no regard for land ownership or boundaries, and neither do we.

Along with our state and federal partners, we adopted a Multi-Jurisdictional Fuel Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy. The implementation plan for this strategy was also cooperatively developed through the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team a part of a much larger Multi-Agency Coordinating Group.

Each Community's Wildfire Protection Plan identifies specific hazards and priority projects within or with a nexus to its jurisdiction; together the cooperators work to reduce these hazards.

The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District in Incline Village is our local Fire Adaptive Community hub — the crew there collaborates with many adjacent communities and fire agencies on forest fuels management activities, public information and other wildland urban interface best practices.

Through these types of partnership agreements, we provide seamless cooperative fire services, forest fuels management and Emergency Medical Services (Paramedic Ambulance) to all our communities.

It should be no surprise to anyone living in this bistate, multi-county region — our Lake Tahoe community — that on any given emergency you will have a mix of firefighters from our many cooperators, including Meeks Bay Fire, North Lake Tahoe Fire (NV), Northstar Fire, North Tahoe Fire (CA), Squaw Valley Fire, Truckee Fire, Calfire, Nevada Division of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service.

We believe it should not be about the patch on the jacket, but a commitment to providing fast, friendly and competent emergency services.

Michael Schwartz joined the North Tahoe Fire Protection District as its chief in 2012, after serving 29 years with a neighboring fire agency. Along with his wife Jean, they have been a part of the Lake Tahoe community since 1978. Visit ntfire.net to learn more.