December 21, 2015    
Happy Holidays! We know that everyone is so busy at this time of year, so we're keeping this edition brief. In this month's issue of The Network Pulse you'll read about the results of the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities Second Annual Conference. We also look back three years to the Washoe Drive Fire and the devastating impacts resulting from poor fireplace ash disposal. Finally, we remind you about Fire Adapted Communities...the reason we created The Network. We are here to help you in your efforts as you work to reduce the wildfire threat and to prepare your home and community to survive wildfire. All our best wishes for a Happy New Year!   
"Successful" Summarizes the Network's
2nd Annual Statewide Conference

Dr. Elwood Miller welcomed participants to this year's conference. Photo courtesy of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

On November 9, 2015 over 100 fire service professionals and residents living in high-wildfire threat locations met together for the The Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities' second statewide conference. The Network's Advisory Board developed the conference agenda with a theme built around the necessity for effective, sustainable partnerships to lower a community's vulnerability to the devastation caused by wildfire. The conference program was divided into two sessions separated by lunch, courtesy of the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts and the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators. Utilizing video as well as speaker presentations, the morning was spent reminding residents about the dangers they face when they choose to live in a high-wildfire threat location. Outstanding presentations enlightened the attendees to the long-term consequences of a mega fire that has a devastating and long lasting effect on every phase of community life. Local examples were used to illustrate the extraordinary challenges that must be overcome by firefighters as they struggle to bring these terrible fires under control. The audience also learned how the homeowner insurance industry views losses due to wildfire.

In the afternoon participants engaged in smaller group discussions focused on proactively addressing the wildfire threat through the creation of mutually beneficial, long lasting and successful partnerships. Participants learned what the National Cohesive Strategy is and the plan for its implementation in our state. The announcement that these implementation plans include consideration of a new organization to fill the void left by the Nevada Fire Safe Council and the potential involvement of an experienced non-profit organization was warmly received. Independent discussions among residents and fire service personnel revealed numerous areas where long standing relationships could be built on a strong footing of mutual benefit. Concluding the conference day, attendees divided into regional groups to develop specific plans for taking advantage of identified areas where relationships could be realized and partnerships could be established. The final question asked on the evaluation form was, "Was the conference worth attending?" The average response on a 5-point scale with 1 being "NO" and 5 being "YES", was a score of 4.8. Appreciation for a very productive day is extended to all the presenters, the Network Advisory Board, the discussion group facilitators and all those in attendance. Emphasis for a special note of thanks is given to Sonya Sistare and Ed Smith for their tireless efforts to promote the conference and ensure the smooth and flawless implementation of the day's agenda. The entire post-conference report can be found here.
Fireplace Safety

One of the 29 homes destroyed during the Washoe Drive Fire ignited by improperly disposed of fireplace ashes. Photo courtesy of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

As the three year anniversary of the Washoe Drive Fire approaches, we are reminded that even seemingly insignificant miscues can have significant consequences. Lack of attention in disposing of fireplace ashes ignited a backyard fire in Washoe Valley which quickly grew into a fast moving, uncontrollable wildfire. This seemingly inconsequential act resulted in the loss of a human life, destruction of 29 homes, evacuation of 10,000 residents and $4.5 million in property damage. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team offer the following advice for safe fireplace and wood stove operations:
  • Have a qualified professional install stoves, chimney connectors, and chimneys.
  • Stoves should have the label of an independent testing laboratory.
  • In wood stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  • Have your chimney and stove inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep every fall just before heating season.
  • Clean the inside of your stove periodically using a wire brush.
  • Keep a close eye on children whenever a wood or pellet stove is being used. Remind them to stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Stoves need space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect the alarms. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Stir the ashes and use your hand to determine if the ashes are completely cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a covered metal container. Keep the container at least 10 feet away from the home and other buildings.
No matter what type of device you use to heat your home, making sure that your heating devices and systems are in good working order is important. Many things can go wrong with heating equipment. Verify that everything you need to keep your home warm throughout the fall and winter months is in good and safe working order.
What do you think?
We'd like your feedback! What information would you like to know to help reduce the wildfire threat to your community? Reply to this email to share your thoughts.
This newsletter is provided by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, an EEO/AA institution, with funding from a State Fire Assistance grant from the Nevada Division of Forestry and USDA Forest Service. Additional support is provided by the Bureau of Land Management - Nevada State Office.
In This Issue
Nevada neighborhoods located in wildfire-prone areas should work toward becoming Fire Adapted Communities (FACs). FACs are communities that can survive a wildfire with little or no assistance from firefighters. This is possible because of how the homes are constructed and maintained, the manner in which vegetation within and surrounding the community is managed and the knowledge and skills of the residents. During a wildfire, FACs reduce the potential for loss of human life and injury, minimize damage to homes and infrastructure and reduce firefighting costs. For more information, watch  Fire Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness.
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