Fighting Wildland Fire A Community Venture

Courtesy of East Fork Fire Protection

MINDEN, Nev. — As Douglas County remembers the 20th anniversary of the Autumn Hills fire, the East Fork Fire Protection District wants to update the public on fire department preparedness and what the public can do to better prepare for wildland fires.

Battalion Chief Scott Fraser, a volunteer during the Autumn Hills fire, has seen a large improvement in how fires are fought on the Sierra Front over the past 20 years.

Smoke from the 2015 Washington Fire. Photo by Chris Dickerson
Smoke from the 2015 Washington Fire. Photo by Chris Dickerson

From modern brush trucks with 500 gallon-per-minute pumps and larger water tanks, to using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) in real time to show fire progression and allow responders to use maps on their cellphones and computers in the fire engines.

East Fork recently added new hose packs allowing our personnel to fight the fires with more water, adding to their own safety.

East Fork is still a combination system with more career staff on duty each day, but still using volunteers to help with water tenders, support roles and covering the rest of the district when large fires occur. East Fork even staffs an additional brush truck on high hazard days, such as the recent red flag days, to increase our response, and lower response times.

Mutual Aid systems are much more organized than 20 years ago, with automatic aid agreements with Carson City, Alpine County, and Mono County allowing for resources to respond quicker and much more efficient.

Even our personnel have expanded their knowledge base and experience in fighting fires by going to fires all over the west coast, not just in Douglas County. Currently we have personnel in Arizona and New Mexico helping on large fires there. The experience they bring back is used here locally to help fight fires such as the T.R.E. fire, Bison, Preacher and Ray May, just to name a few.

But fire department response is only a part of wildland preparedness. The public has a critical role in preparing.

Having at least 30 feet of defensible space, removing dead brush from around your home, having a plan in case you need to evacuate, and having at least 3 days’ worth of food, water, medicine and clothing is crucial for anyone living in or near the wildland interface.

Large portions of homes in Douglas County are within the wildland urban interface zone. The Living with Fire website is full of great tips and tools to assist homeowners in preparing.

East Fork wants to remind the public to check your local media sources anytime a fire is burning in or near Douglas County. Television, radio, newspapers, websites, even social media such as Facebook and Twitter are valuable resources for information during an emergency.

Fighting a wildland fire is truly a community issue. From the Fire Department and Sheriff’s department, to GIS, Dispatch, our mutual aid partners, back to the homeowner, everyone should take the time to be prepared.

For further information please contact our District Office at 775-782-9040.

For questions or additional information about this press release please contact Battalion Chief Scott Fraser, 775-720-8043.