The defensible space around your home is done (for now), your Go Bags are packed and you practiced evacuation routes and getting in touch with everyone according to the emergency plan. But wait, there’s more!
There is no magic wand and muttering “Evanesco” will not vanish the fuel load all around us. Joining or creating your Firewise community is a way to learn more and share resources and best practices. The Nevada County Coalition of Firewise Communities meets monthly (on Zoom for now.)
To find out if you live in a Firewise community, use the Ready Nevada County website and check the map of certified Firewise Communities in Nevada County. The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County coordinates the Firewise Communities USA program. The mission of the Fire Safe Council is to reduce the risk of life and property loss from wildfire. To find out if you are already part of a Firewise Community or to learn about how your road association, neighborhood, or community may become a designated Firewise Community, contact the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County: (530) 272-1122 | AreYouFireSafe.org
Support and fund your local fire department
Many of our local fire departments are all- or part-volunteer fire departments. Support your neighbors who are ready to defend your home in case of a fire, respond to accidents, medical calls and so much more. Many of the departments have an Auxiliary where community members come together and run thrift stores, organize raffles and events to support and fund the fire department.
Nevada County fire department websites:
- Nevada County Consolidated Fire District
- Higgins Fire Protection District
- Penn Valley Fire Protection District
- Rough and Ready Fire Department
- Grass Valley/Nevada City Fire Department
- Ophir Hill Fire Protection District
- Peardale Chicago Park Fire Protection District
- Truckee Fire Protection District
- North San Juan Fire Protection District
- Tahoe National Forest
- California (Cal) Fire
Note that some fire departments do not have a digital presence at this time, i.e. Washington Fire and Rescue (but they have a famed Chicken BBQ every year to raise funds.)
Fire departments are funded by a parcel tax, part of the annual property tax. Many departments are unsuccessful when trying to raise the annual fees via a tax measure. Voters who decline to fund their local fire departments adequately often complain about the tax burden but ignore the raises in insurance premiums or the risk of cancellation of their homeowners policy. If a fire department has to scale back services, or close a fire station, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating goes up. The scores go from 1 to 10, with lower numbers being better. Keep in mind that fire departments also provide EMS services, including vehicle accidents. If the department’s engine is tied up on an accident, response times for a heart attack go up. You do the math.
Stay informed and make your voice heard
If you live on a road that is not a county-maintained road, consider creating a Permanent Road Division (PRD) which basically is an association of homeowners hiring county resources (paid via an assessment on the property tax bill) to maintain the road(s) to county standards. A handy FAQ about PRDs is here.
If a PRD is too formal for your taste, reach out to your neighbors and organize a work party to clear the edges of your road or help residents who can’t do clearing work themselves. It makes the neighborhood safer for everyone, including you.
Attend meetings of your local Firewise community, join the Yuba-Bear Burn Cooperative to learn about safe and beneficial fire on private lands in the Yuba and Bear River watersheds.
Comment on neighborhood projects. Recent projects like the Ponderosa West Grass Valley Defense Zone Project included 1,237 acres and offers protection to the communities of Lake Wildwood, Penn Valley, and Rough and Ready to the west, as well as the City of Grass Valley. Treatment included a custom shaded fuel break prescription for each parcel developed by a California Registered Professional Forester in accordance with the property owners who chose to participate. Professional forestry methods were implemented to establish vegetation that is diverse in age, species, and size and recommendations for ongoing maintenance were included. The project received a lot of community input from residents in the area who helped shape it.
Join wildfire preparation events in your neighborhood, be that an evacuation drill, a safety fair or a town hall. The work is never quite done, but as a community we can prepare and be more resilient.
This concludes the 12-week series, but if you have questions send them our way and we’ll do our best to find answers for you. Stay safe!
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