News Flash

Nevada County News

Posted on: February 22, 2019

Get Firewise: Organize! Event

Get Firewise Organize NewsFlash

Are you new to the area and not sure how to approach preparing your home for wildfire? Are you a Nevada County native, but need some help getting firewise? Are you not even sure what firewise means? Are you looking for new ways to become part of the solution to protect Nevada County?

Tackling a problem seems daunting when you face it alone, but many hands make light work, perhaps even fun work when done alongside friends, family, and neighbors. Join experts Dr. JoAnn Fites-Kaufman and Pat Leach for Get Firewise: Organize! on February 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Board Chambers in the Eric Rood Administration Center for an intimate presentation on how to inspire, mobilize and organize your neighborhood. Meet people already engaged in this important work and create a plan for you, your family, and your community. Find out how to support established Firewise Communities or even start your own.

Nevada County boasts the second highest number of Firewise Communities in the state, second in line only to Marin County. The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County (Fire Safe Council) has been instrumental over the past 2 decades providing vital support to communities seeking to make their homes, neighborhoods and private roadways safer. Today, The Fire Safe Council and the Coalition of Firewise Communities of Nevada County work in tandem to support new communities who are organizing at the neighborhood level. Whether you are a homeowner, or a renter looking for tools to help make your residence more resilient to wildfire, the Get Firewise: Organize! workshop is designed to provide valuable information about how you can build momentum in your neighborhood.

About The Local Experts: Learn from the Professionals

Dr. Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman grew up in the Sierra Nevada and has lived on the Ridge for 21 years. She has worked for over 35 years in natural resources, ecology and fire, mostly with the US Forest Service. She has a PhD in Forest Resources from the University of Washington and 15 years of experience working on wildfires measuring fire behavior, effectiveness of fuel treatments and fire effects. She maintains her fireline qualifications as a firefighter, fire behavior technical specialist and fire effects monitor.

Pat Leach came to Nevada County from Hawaii where she was a partner in a fire detection and suppression company, during which she helped Honolulu update their Fire Prevention Codes in the early '80's after the tragic Las Vegas fire at the MGM Grand called attention to high-rise safety. Now a Ridge resident for 22 years, she is the Corporate Secretary of RCD Engineering, a local manufacturing company, engages with community issues through the San Juan Ridge Action Community Team, is a Board Member of the North San Juan Fire Protection District for the past 15 years, and a Defensible Space Advisor for the Fire Safe Council.

What is Firewise?

The term “Firewise” was coined in the early 1990s to identify the growing body of knowledge that exists for landowners seeking to reduce their risk to wildfire. The National Fire Protection Association, a global self-funded nonprofit organization, established in 1896, devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards launched a dedicated firewise website in 1997. 

Research around home destruction vs. home survival in wildfires point to embers and small flames as the main way that most homes ignite in wildfires. Embers, or firebrands, are burning pieces of airborne wood and/or vegetation that can be carried more than a mile through the wind, cause spot fires and ignite homes, debris and other objects. 

There are methods homeowners may implement to prepare their homes to better withstand ember attacks and reduce the likelihood of flames or surface fire touching the home. Experiments, models and post-fire studies have shown homes ignite due to the condition of the home and everything around it, up to 200’ from the foundation. This is called the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ). 

Becoming Firewise means implementing Defensible Space, best-practices which are endorsed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Forest Service and CAL FIRE, and are required by both state law (PRC 4291) and Nevada County’s local hazardous vegetation ordinance.

Check Your Neighborhood Firewise Status

Not sure if your neighborhood is a Firewise Community or Firewise Community In-Training? Check out the Coalition of Firewise Communities of Nevada County’s resource page.

Firewise Resources to Help You Get Started 

Working Together to Stay Safe: How to Become a Firewise Community in Nevada County—PDF

How to Prepare Your Home for Wildfires (Spanish version)—PDF

Map of Nevada County Fire Wise Communities

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