Chief’s Corner: What is a Fire Adapted Community? | SierraSun.com

Chief’s Corner: What is a Fire Adapted Community?

Mike Brown

Do you know what it takes to survive a wildfire? Unfortunately, many residents in the Lake Tahoe Basin and their homes are not prepared to survive wildfire.

Faced with the growing potential for loss of human life and property due to wildfire, the Lake Tahoe Basin's fire agencies and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension have come together to promote the Fire Adapted Community concept.

There are proven steps that homeowners can take to improve personal safety and home survival during wildfire. The "Fire Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness" booklet promotes and teaches these steps. Once implemented at the neighborhood level, these recommendations will assist communities in becoming fire adapted.

A Fire Adapted Community is a community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of these communities accept responsibility for living in a high fire-hazard area.

They possess the knowledge and skill to: 1) prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire, 2) evacuate early, safely and effectively and 3) survive, if trapped by wildfire.

Why do some houses survive a wildfire, while others are destroyed? Research findings prove that house survival during wildfire is not random. Rather, it is the features of the house, the characteristics of the adjacent vegetation and other fuels, and routine maintenance that often determine which homes burn and which survive.

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These types of actions are called pre-fire activities. Pre-fire activities are actions completed before a wildfire occurs that improve the survivability of people and the home. These actions are what comprise a Fire Adapted Community.

The elements of a Fire Adapted Community are:

• Community Protection: well designed fuel breaks and safe areas help to protect the community.

• Access: good access helps emergency responders arrive in a timely manner.

• Defensible Space: proper management of vegetation surrounding the home reduces the wildfire threat.

• Built Environment: appropriate home construction and maintenance resists ignition.

• Evacuation: prepared communities can evacuate safely and effectively.

For more information on Fire Adapted Communities visit http://www.LivingWithFire.info/tahoe, or for the electronic version of the Fire Adapted Communities booklet, type this URL into your web browser: tinyurl.com/lkl9qop.

"Chief's Corner" is a regular feature in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza from North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Mike Brown, offering information, tips and education material on fire safety, emergency preparedness and other pertinent topics.