The Clark County Fire Department is partnering with local, federal and state agencies to gear up for a busy wildland fire season and remind residents about the potential for wildfires during the spring and summer months when vegetation is driest.
Nevada's wildland fire season is May through October when vegetation is driest. May is Wildfire Awareness Month. In preparation for this year's season, the Clark County Fire Department is partnering with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to offer a training session on Saturday, March 30, to help volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to fight on the front lines of wildfires. The session will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, 28 Cottonwood Drive. Participants rotate through several education stations as part of the annual training. Stations include weather, which has a critical role in battling wildland fires; back fire lighting and line cutting techniques used to clear away areas to protect firefighters and threatened structures; shelter deployment in which volunteers are required to set up a foil shelter within 25 seconds; structure protection; and hand tools and equipment.
"It has been a pretty wet spring, so there is a lot of vegetation that can become fire fuel as the weather gets warmer and drier," said Clark County Assistant Fire Chief Larry Haydu, who oversees the County's ranks of volunteer firefighters as Rural Division Chief. "We are asking the public to carefully dispose of matches, smoking materials and other items that can ignite fires."
The memory of the enormous Carpenter 1 fire at Mount Charleston also looms large this time of year. The fire was ignited by a lightning strike on July 1, 2013, and consumed nearly 28,000 acres of forest, destroyed six structures and threatened homes.
"Mount Charleston is a very sensitive area, and visitors and residents alike need to work together to protect it," said Fire Chief Jorge Gonzalez of the Mount Charleston Fire Protection District. "It's important that the public obey posted fire restrictions and to use extreme caution if you are barbecuing or cooking with an open flame at campsites."
Clark County has about 140 volunteer firefighters and 10 volunteer fire stations in rural areas, including Indian Springs, Blue Diamond, Mountain Springs, Good Springs and Searchlight. The Mount Charleston Fire Protection District operates Kyle Canyon Fire Station 853 at 4650 Kyle Canyon Road across from Old Town and Lee Canyon Fire Station 856 on State Route 156, near the Old Mill Campground. Clark County also
operates one volunteer station on the mountain, Station 82 in Cold Creek. The majority of brush fires that happen in Southern Nevada occur on federal land, so Clark County's volunteers typically respond to support the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies, depending on the jurisdiction of the fires. Volunteers also could be dispatched to fight wildland fires throughout that state of Nevada.
Wildland Fire Prevention Tips
The following actions are recommended to prevent wildland fires:
- Clear dead vegetation (trees, grass, leaves etc.) around your home to limit potential fire fuel.
- Properly soak and dispose of cigarette butts, charcoal briquettes and any materials that can start fires.
- Adhere to posted fire restrictions in National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management areas in Southern Nevada, including Red Rock, Mount Charleston and Lake Mead.
- Equip all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and similar vehicles with spark arrestors.
- Only fireworks labeled "Safe and Sane" sold by authorized dealers are legal for use in Clark County and only from July 1 until July 4 when fireworks are legal under Clark County code. Legal fireworks include sparklers and fireworks that keep to a small, circular area on the ground and don't explode in the air. Illegal fireworks include firecrackers, roman candles, sky rockets – any item with highly combustible materials. No fireworks, including the Safe and Sane ones, are allowed on public lands.
- Remember that roofs constructed from fire resistant materials such as tile, metal or asphalt can significantly increase the survivability of your home, while wood shingle roofs are more burnable.
- If you are warned that a wildland fire is threatening your area, listen to your battery-operated radio for reports and evacuation information. Follow the instructions of local officials.
For more information and wildfire prevention tips, the public is encouraged to visit www.LivingWithFire.info. Fire prevention tips also are posted on the Clark County Fire Department's website pages at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov.