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Fire summit aims to teach, raise awareness and prevent losses

By Bob Conrad

FIREFIGHTER AND FLAMESFire is a natural force, one that in recent decades has become increasingly more devastating.

The Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit, being held today and tomorrow at the University of Nevada, is a meeting for multiple government agencies and non-governmental organizations to examine in detail the realities of fire on urban areas.

Besides costly fire suppression expenses, fire impacts harm communities on a number of levels. Resources can quickly become strained if fires become large enough and threaten life and property. Economic impacts after fires can last for years. A 1999 University of Nevada study found that impacts from the 1997 Nevada fire season greatly impacted wildlife, agricultural operations and infrastructure and recreation at an estimated cost of $13 million.

The worst danger from fires is from flaming embers, not flame fronts. Embers can travel great distances and ignite homes through attic and foundation vents, which means urban areas, not just those on the wildland-urban interface, are at risk.

Public responsibility is key, experts at the summit said. While homeowners should make their homes fire safe, it is really community-wide efforts at making homes fire safe and creating landscapes that have defensible space that will see the most benefits.

Agency representatives stressed that preparedness goes a long way in protecting lives and homes, and good working relationships among fire and land management agencies helps to most efficiently coordinate resources.

The summit is made possible in part by funding from a grant from the Bureau of Land Management in cooperation with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Information on making your home fire safe can be found at www.livingwithfire.info.

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