TRPA, Basin fire chiefs agree on fire safety rules | SierraSun.com

TRPA, Basin fire chiefs agree on fire safety rules

Sun staff report

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and area fire chiefs have reached agreement on eight of nine issues raised by fire officials to help improve fire safety around the Tahoe Basin..

With the endorsement of the Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Committee of the TRPA Governing Board, the agreement will be outlined at a meeting of the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission today at a meeting on the North Shore.

The chiefs recommended the changes last month in a joint letter to the commission outlining specific areas in which changes to TRPA practices or ordinances might be needed to be more consistent with fire safety standards. In a meeting Oct. 5, TRPA and fire agencies reached agreement on most points. In most instances, no changes to TRPA rules will be necessary to satisfy the concerns, according to an agency press release.

Agreements include:

– Raising from 6 to 14 inches diameter the size of a tree that can be removed without a permit within the defensible space zone for fire protection. (Ordinance change needed).

– Including fire agency review of emergency vehicle access plans to properties and therefore addressing land coverage issues before they become problematic for property owners. (No ordinance change needed).

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– Maintaining the current practice of installing a 5-foot non-combustible “moat” around structures as one option during the implementation of best management practices. Currently, gravel and rock infiltration trenches around foundations are not counted toward allowable land coverage. (No ordinance change needed).

– Allowing 100 feet of defensible space around homes and 300 feet on steep slopes. (No ordinance change needed–TRPA has no conflicting regulations).

– Requiring further discussion are questions surrounding the use of pine needles for erosion control in the 5 to 30-foot-zone around homes when creating defensible space for fire protection. TRPA includes the use of pine needles among the acceptable erosion control options in this zone.