Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
The Cold Springs community is located near the western boundary of Washoe County, west of Silver Knolls and north of US Highway 395. The community is situated at the south end of the Peterson Mountains and north and west of White Lake. The community boundary is shown in Figure 12-1. The community hazard assessment resulted in classifying Cold Springs in the Moderate Hazard Category (44 points). A summary of factors that contributed to the hazard rating is included in Table 12-3. Primary factors that determined the hazard rating in Cold Springs included the potential fire behavior related to topography and vegetative fuels, and limited fire suppression resources.
The wildland-urban interface area around Cold Springs is characterized as the classic interface condition. There is a clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and the residential structures in the community. Most of the residences are located on lots less than one acre in size.
Most of the homes in the interface are built with non-combustible or ignition resistant siding such as medium density fiberboard, stucco, or brick. Almost all of the homes have roofs of non-combustible material such as tile, metal, or composition. Approximately thirteen percent of the homes observed have unenclosed balconies, porches, decks, or other architectural features that create drafty areas where sparks and embers can be trapped, smolder, ignite, and rapidly spread fire to the house.
Approximately 96 percent of the homes surveyed in the Cold Springs community have landscaping that meets defensible space guidelines to protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
Fire suppression services in the Cold Springs community are provided by two fire protection districts. Two fire stations are operated by the Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department, which reported having 28 volunteer members at the time that interviews were conducted for this report. The fire station on the west side of Highway 395 is Nevada Division of Forestry Station 21. The fire station east of Highway 395 on White Lake Parkway belongs to the Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire District. Table 12-1 lists the types of wildfire resources within the community that could respond to a reported wildland fire.
|Type of Resource||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type 1
Engine Type 3
|Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department
(NDF Station 21 - Cold Springs)
|Water Tender Type 1
Engine Type 6
|Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department
(Truckee Meadows Station 20 - Cold Springs)
|Source: Dick Boykin, Chief, Cold Springs VFD; Joe Reinhardt, BC, Nevada Division of Forestry; Marty Scheuerman, DC, Reno Fire Department.|
Reno Fire Department responds with resources from the closest available career staffed station according to their standard wildland fire dispatch. Additional resources are available upon request from local, state, and federal agencies through mutual aid agreements as described in Section 4.1.1. The Cold Springs VFD also has mutual aid agreements with Lassen, Plumas and Sierra Counties in California.
Water available for fire suppression in Cold Springs includes fire hydrants within 1,000 feet of structures with minimum flow capacities of 1,000 gpm, and four water tanks totaling over four-million gallons. The water system operates by gravity and electrical pumps with emergency back-up generators.
Fires are reported in Washoe County through the 911 system, which connects the call with the Washoe County 911 Center. Washoe County 911 notifies the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center of wildland fires. The Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center notifies the Volunteer Fire Departments, the Nevada Division of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service of fires through the use of pagers and radios.
The Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department has access to State Mutual Aid Frequencies, and communications are currently compatible between agencies with the exception of the Reno Fire Department 800 meg radios. When the federal agencies go to narrow band digital radios, the volunteers will no longer be able to communicate with the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service.
All volunteer firefighters are trained to the State Fire Marshal’s Firefighter I and II standards. Wildland firefighting training is provided by Nevada Division of Forestry and meets the NWCG 310-1 standards.
The Cold Springs VFD responded to 280 calls in 2003 that included twenty wildland brush calls and 250 emergency medical calls.
Financial support for the Cold Springs VFD is provided through a pay-per-call program in which the Nevada Division Forestry bills for the emergency services as they are provided as part of the Sierra Fire Protection District. NRS 473 fire districts are funded for day-to-day operations from property taxes raised within the fire district for equipment, capital improvement projects, and maintenance. The Cold Springs VFD is also funded by an annual stipend from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (NRS 474). For fires within a Nevada Division of Forestry Fire Protection District, the state bears the financial responsibility for all costs resulting from actions taken by Nevada Division of Forestry in suppressing fires and in minimizing damages to exposed life, property, and natural resources.
Washoe County maintains an Emergency Plan for Hazardous Materials and an All-Risk Disaster Plan through the Washoe County Local Emergency Planning Committee. The Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department does pre-attack planning for fires as part of their in-house annual fire training.
The terrain throughout the wildland-urban interface area of Cold Springs is generally flat, less than eight percent slope, with slightly east and south facing aspects. The prevailing wind direction is from the southwest and west, with strong downslope and cross slope winds common during the summer months of June through September.
The vegetative fuels in the Cold Springs community primarily consist of big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, ephedra, desert peach, and bitterbrush in the shrub layer with cheatgrass and Great Basin wildrye as the dominant ground fuels. The heavier concentrations of fuels in the Cold Springs area are found around the exterior of the community and along drainage ditches within the community. The fuel loading was estimated to range between one and three tons per acre and was considered a moderate fuel hazard.
The worst-case wildfire scenario would be similar to the 1984 Mitchell Canyon Fire. The worst-case scenario for this area would be a dry lightning storm on a late summer afternoon in a year with above-normal precipitation and abundant annual grass production. Multiple fire ignitions to the west/southwest of the community would be pushed by strong erratic winds, greater than twenty miles per hour, toward the community on the west side of Highway 395. With multiple fires in the area, resources may not be available to protect all structures and air resources may be limited.
There is a high potential for fire ignition to occur in Cold Springs due to summer afternoon thunderstorms and high public use of the area west of community. Several human and lightning-cause fire ignitions have occurred within one mile of the community since 1980. The area has moderate to steep slopes with moderate fuel loadings and heavier fuel loads in the drainages. There is a moderate to high potential for structure loss due to heavy fuels in drainages and poor defensible space around some structures
The responsibility to keep a community fire safe falls not only on the local fire protection district but also on the residents of the community, businesses, and local governments. The recommendations for the Cold Springs area focus primarily on additional efforts that could be taken by community members and public agencies to increase wildland fire safety through the reduction of hazardous fuels. Creating a fuelbreak west of the community, reducing interior fuels, cheatgrass control, and improving defensible space will help reduce the wildfire threat to Cold Springs.
Defensible space treatments are an essential first line of defense for residential structures. The goal of the treatments is to significantly reduce or remove flammable vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures. (Refer to Appendix E for the recommended defensible space area). Defensible space reduces the fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against oncoming wildfire.
Fuel reduction treatments are applied on a larger scale than defensible space treatments. Permanently changing the fuel characteristics over large blocks of land to one of a lower volume and altered distribution reduces the risk of a catastrophic wildfire in the treated area. Reducing vegetation along roadways and driveways could reduce the likelihood of blocking access and escape routes, help contain the fire perimeter, and improve firefighter access and safety for protecting homes.
Nevada Fire Safe Council
1187 Charles Drive
Reno, Nevada 89509
A public education program that explains fire safe measures in clear and emphatic terms will have an impact on residents of the wildland-urban interface. Informed community members will be more inclined to make efforts to effectively reduce wildfire hazards around their homes and neighborhoods.
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix E.|
|Fuels Reduction||Implement fuels reduction treatments south and west of the community, west of Highway 395.
Coordinate with the Bureau of Land Management to construct a fuelbreaks 200 feet wide around the south and west sides of the community.
|Community Coordination||Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.
Improve address visibility from the road.
Participate in public education opportunities and become knowledgeable of emergency evacuation procedures.
|Utility Company||Fuels Reduction||Reduce vegetation and maintain fuel reduction treatments in power line corridors. Maintain fifteen feet of clearance around utility poles. Maintain thirty feet of clearance from the fence around power substations.
Reduce and maintain 100 feet of clearance from the fenced perimeter of the propane transfer and bulk storage facility.
|Bureau of Land Management||Fuels Reduction||Coordinate with private property owners to construct fuelbreaks 200 feet wide around the south and west sides of the community.|
|Washoe County||Fuels Reduction||Reduce and/or remove vegetation in county road right-of-ways to maintain an average four-inch vegetation height. Reseed treated areas to minimize cheatgrass and noxious weed invasion.|
|Community Coordination||Continue to require all future development in the County to meet the national fire codes with regard to community design, building construction and spacing, road construction, water supply, and emergency access.
Enforce or develop county laws, regulations, and ordinances for defensible space and fuels reduction that include absentee homeowners, vacant lots, and new subdivisions.
Facilitate coordinated and collaborative efforts at the County and State levels for consistency in fire safe community planning and enforcement of fire safe ordinances in a unified manner.
|Railroad||Fuels Reduction||Reduce and/or remove vegetation twenty feet on both sides of railroad tracks.|
|Cold Springs VFD
Nevada Division of Forestry
Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire Department
|Fire Suppression Resources and Training||Meet annually with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to review pre-attack plans, coordinate firefighting resources and responsibilities, and test radio coverage and compatibility.|
|Public Education||Develop an emergency evacuation plan for the Cold Springs community.
Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners.
Cold Springs Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Cold Springs Fire History, Suppression Resources, Critical Features, and Proposed Mitigation Projects