What to know about defensible space, chipping | SierraSun.com

What to know about defensible space, chipping

Michael Schwartz
Chief’s Corner

Michael Schwartz

One aspect of wildfire awareness is creating defensible space. Defensible space is essential to improve your home's chance of surviving a wildfire.

CAL FIRE describes defensible space as the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it.

This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire, and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat.

Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home. Specifics to your property's defensible space can be addressed when a defensible space inspector visits your home to perform an inspection.

He or she will mark hazard trees, and provide you with suggestions on landscaping. The Defensible Space Inspector that covers both Meeks Bay Fire (MBFPD) and North Tahoe Fire Protection District (NTFPD) completed around 400 inspections last year.

We are currently in the hiring process for an additional inspector for the 2017 season, thanks to grant funding provided by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA).

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NTFPD and MBFPD provide landowners with numerous options for easily creating defensible space on their property. We work together with North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District in implementing chipping. The following information will help you prepare for your scheduled chipping:

Piles must not be higher than 6 feet or longer than 6 feet. No piles in length over 30 feet.

Piles must be curbside and easily accessible

Branches cannot exceed 6 inches in diameter

No stumps, roots, garbage, nails, lumber, pine needles or pinecones.

On our website http://www.ntfire.net you'll find details on how to sign up for chipping, and scheduling a defensible space inspection. If you're curious about how to dispose of pine needles, our website provides you with a list of dates throughout the summer to dispose of green waste.

Of course, you can always call our station during business hours for information as well. Each neighboring district and CAL FIRE have variations of chipping, D-space, green waste drop offs, pick-ups, etc. Interested residents can visit their respective website and find out the programs available in their community.

Interested in creating a "chipping day" consisting of a collaboration with your neighbors? Call our station, or contact a coordinator from Fire Adapted Communities. Fire Adapted Communities take responsibility and collective action to reduce the risk to wildfire within their neighborhoods. A Fire Adapted Community is one that can withstand wildfire without the loss of life or property. More information is available at http://tahoercd.org/fireadaptedcommunities/.

June is Wildfire Awareness Month! Please join us for free food at our second annual Fire Safe BBQ on June 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. across the street from Station 51 at the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue Building, 221 Fairway Drive in Tahoe City. Multiple agencies from around the lake will be in attendance to provide you with information regarding defensible space, evacuations, and more. For a list of events throughout the month of June visit: http://tahoe.livingwithfire.info/wildfire-awareness-month/.

Michael Schwartz joined the North Tahoe Fire Protection District as its fire 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.