This year's wildfire season is here, and Nevada County's Office of Emergency Services has been working to raise awareness and mobilize the community to prevent and prepare for wildfire. However, without the community's participation and mobilization at the neighborhood level, these goals can't be achieved.
Dave Kapler's neighborhood association Wings of Morning Neighbors has a few ideas on how to increase your neighborhood's safety in the event of a fire and gets together regularly to discuss their wildfire safety plan. His neighborhood coordinates community work days to clear private roads that residents would use during an evacuation and encourages regular maintenance of vegetation around the home as well.
Research points to ember intrusion and small flames as the main way homes ignite from wildfire. Preparation plays a significant role in increasing a home's ability to withstand wildfire. Homeowners can better prepare their homes to resist ember attacks by creating defensible space within 100ft surrounding a home, also known as the Home Ignition Zone. Defensible space not only increases a homes' ability to passively withstand ember intrusion, it also slows the spread of wildfire and creates a buffer zone to provide a safer, more effective space for fire fighters to defend a home. To learn more about the immediate, intermediate and extended zones in your Home Ignition Zone, visit ReadyNevadaCounty.org/DefensibleSpaceWorks.
Dave, a retired fire chief, believes in the importance of neighborhood cooperation saying, "You'd be surprised how much you can get done when the whole neighborhood is chipping in." While the defensible space around the roads and properties throughout the area have tremendously improved, it will still take years until the neighborhood achieves the defensible space for which they are aiming. According to Kapler, "Everyone has to do this. If one property doesn't participate, they can be the tinder pile that puts the whole neighborhood in danger."
In the meantime, the neighborhood has improved the ways they would communicate during a wildfire event. One thing your neighborhood can do to prepare is to develop a neighborhood evacuation notification plan.
It is suggested that you find five trusted emergency allies to share an evacuation plan with to increase preparedness and connectedness. Checking in regularly with family, friends and neighbors, especially on Red Flag Warning Days and before Public Safety Power Shutoffs, increases community safety. It is important that people have a plan in place to leave early, particularly those who need extra help with mobility or transportation.
The notification plan consists of three tiers, the first being a "buddy system", the second a messaging app, and the third a hyper-local evacuation car horn alert. Dave's neighborhood has a buddy system, in which 2-3 houses look after one another and spread the word in the case of a fire. Additionally, they have started using a messaging app to alert each other in case of an emergency. The neighborhood has also agreed that when evacuated, people will honk their horns as they leave to help their neighbors become aware of the situation, if they are not already. Working together with our neighbors and as a community is essential to being prepared for wildfire. To find more information on how you and your neighbors can prepare, visit www.ReadyNevadaCounty.org.
About Ready Nevada County
Ready Nevada County represents the multifaceted stakeholder effort coordinated by the County of Nevada to raise awareness and mobilize the community to prevent and prepare for wildfire. We are working to expand Nevada County's wildfire readiness through increased planning, strategic partnerships, improved communication, and ongoing public engagement.