Carson City Fire Department kicks off Wildfire Awareness Month

The Carson City Fire Department kicked off Wildfire Awareness Month with a tour of their latest project to reduce the amount of fire fuels around housing developments.

May is Wildfire Awareness month, and the Carson City Fire Department is trying to help educate the public on ways to help prevent and prepare for wildfires. Rodd Rummel, Carson City Wildlands Fuels Management Officer took a small group of community members to the open space behind the Lakeview community Sunday to explain how to help reduce the risk of fire damage to homes during wildfires.

In this area, the fire department is working on a 14-acre fuel removal project, by reducing the amount of ground fuels around homes. Ground fuels consist of certain brushes, trees and other possible fire accelerants.

“We did the fuel removal to create a fuel break behind the homes,” said Dave Ruben, Carson City fire marshal. “We also want to remind homeowners to have defensible space around the home.”

The city decided to start that project behind the Lakeview community at the beginning of this year, because that was the area near the 2004 Waterfall fire that destroyed 18 homes, damaged 14 more, destroyed 51 cars and injured five firefighters. Ruben said that they like to tell residents in this neighborhood, and along west Carson City about wildfire preparedness because that area has a lot of fire history.

“It has been a few years since we have had a large fire so we are crossing our fingers that we will dodge a bullet again, but with such a severe drought, we need to be prepared,” Ruben said.

Rummel led a group up the hill in the open space and explained how they used a masticator with a rotating drum and teeth to grind up certain vegetation, eliminating clusters of plants and creating a mulch that will both moisturize the ground and slow down any fires.

“People think that when they hear fuel reduction, they think we are going to bulldoze everything, but that’s not it,” Rummel said.

The purpose of the project is, if a fire does break out, it will be slow moving and low-intensity burns so that the firefighters can more easily put out the fire.

This also helps homeowners so that there is less of a chance of their house catching on fire, and it helps restore forest health from the last fire.

In addition to clearing some plants, the fire department and Carson City Open Spaces have been planting trees to begin reforesting the area. Rummel said that by having trees in a 12 by 12 grid, it will reduce those plants that easily catch and spread fires, as well as restoring the forest landscape.

“It is all trading and balancing,” Rummel said. “We take out the dry grasses and put in good grasses. Right now this is great, this is what we want to see it all the trees sprouting, it makes our job easier when the land is managed around the houses.”

Funding for this project is coming from grants from the U.S. Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry. The fire department will continue to work on the project, by keeping up periodic maintenance.


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