Carson City’s Wellington Crescent subdivision was threatened by the Waterfall Fire in 2004. Elements of a fire adapted community, including a community fuel break, good access, ignition-resistant building construction and defensible landscapes all helped ensure that no homes or lives were lost. Credit: BASF

Topic: Preparedness Type: Essay

Fire Adapted Means Being Fire Prepared

Author: Elwood Miller

The following was originally posted on Nevada’s Living With Fire blog.

As coordinator of the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities, I keep hearing the questions, “what is a fire adapted community” and “how do you become one?” These questions are repeated in conferences, small group meetings, and individual conversations. As a result, numerous definitions have been developed which undoubtedly lead to more confusion and more questions. Rather than develop yet another definition, a focus on the core concepts may help.

At the heart of the term, fire adapted community is a mission of survival; survival of people and the place they call home. And, not only survival, but survival achieved with a minimum of effort by firefighters and their suppression resources. But, how is that possible?

The answer is pre-fire preparation. In other words, a fire adapted community is one that is fully prepared for the occurrence of wildfire. It is one where a community of like-minded residents has worked to instill a culture of fire in their community. It is one where the people have envisioned what it will be like when flames, blowing embers, and smoke surround their homes and they have mentally prepared themselves for that occurrence. They have fully accepted their vulnerability and have developed plans to take the steps necessary to ensure their community’s survival.

More than that, they have also taken action to modify their house and the fuels that surround it to make it as difficult as possible for fires to ignite, grow and spread. In doing this they not only increase the probability that they and their home will survive but they greatly increase the element of safety for the firefighters that do arrive to provide assistance. Pre-fire preparation broadly accepted, supported, and applied is the key to becoming a fire adapted community.

Detailed information on what you can do, and how to become better prepared is available at www.livingwithfire.info. Joining a Network of fire adapted communities will put you in contact with others facing the same vulnerabilities. Being prepared is what being fire adapted is all about.

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