Extension helping Nevada neighborhoods become 'fire-adapted'

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Those living in fire-prone areas can take steps to help firefighters before a blaze

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith is encouraging Nevada neighborhoods and communities living in high fire hazard areas to join their neighbors in learning how to become a "fire adapted community."

A fire adapted community (FAC) can survive wildfire with little or no assistance from firefighters.

"This is possible because of appropriate building construction, proper vegetation management, thoughtful community planning and a prepared fire service and citizenry," Smith, director of Extension's Living With Fire program, said. "Given Nevada's history of intense wildfires, working to become a FAC should be a goal for many homeowners."

How do you know if a neighborhood is a Fire Adapted Community? Smith said you will see many of the following items:

Houses have:

• Fire-resistant roofs.

• Attic, eave and foundation vent openings covered by 1/8-inch wire mesh or use ember and flame-resistant vents.

• Double-pane or better windows.

• Ignition-resistant siding.

• Noncombustible address signs that are readily visible from the street.

• Roofs, rain gutters and decks that are free of pine needles, leaves and other debris.

• Exterior surfaces (roofs, siding, etc.) maintained in good condition.

• Noncombustible fences or wood fences that are not connected to houses.

Residential landscapes have:

• Ignition-resistant plants and noncombustible landscape materials present within five feet of the house, including healthy lawn and herbaceous flowers, gravel, rock and concrete.

• Firewood stacks located at least 30 feet from the house.

• A lean, clean and green area for a distance of at least 30 feet from the house.

• Wildland vegetation (sagebrush, cheatgrass, pinyon and Jeffrey pine) beyond the 30-foot lean, clean and green area that is thinned, no ladder fuels and free of dead vegetation.

The neighborhood has:

• Parks, playgrounds, ball fields or golf courses that can serve as community safe areas during a wildfire.

• Noncombustible, reflective street signs with characters at least 4 inches high.

• At least two ways in and out.

• Turnarounds suitable for large fire equipment.

• Streets at least 20 feet wide.

• A fuelbreak along the perimeter of the community abutting the defensible space of adjacent residential landscapes.

• An accessible and reliable water system.

Smith said FAC residents know how to safely and effectively evacuate during a wildfire. This includes knowing how to properly prepare their homes for survival when wildfire is threatening by:

• Closing doors and windows

• Moving combustible patio furniture indoors or away from the house

• Turning on interior and exterior lights

• Turning off propane at the tank or natural gas at the meter.

"People living in a FAC also know what to wear, what to bring, where to take animals and how to communicate with family members," Smith said. "They have met with local fire officials and understand local fire behavior and hazards, available firefighting capabilities and how to acquire situational awareness during wildfire."

For more information concerning how to become a FAC, go to www.LivingWithFire.info or call Grant at 775-784-4848 and ask for the free publication "Fire Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness."


A study from University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Living With Fire Program shows that most common mulches used in Northern Nevada are combustible under dry, hot and windy weather conditions but that different mulches vary considerably when it comes to flame height and the spread of fire. A free publication detailing the results of the study, "The Combustibility of Landscape Mulches," is now available through Cooperative Extension's Living With Fire program. The new publication provides recommendations on how to safely use mulches in residential landscapes. "The Combustibility of Landscape Mulches," is available by calling University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at (775) 784-4848 or downloading it at LivingWithFire.info.


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