Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
The Galena community is located in southwest Washoe County, east of the Mount Rose Corridor community and west of US Highway 395. The community is situated on the foothills of the east slope of the Carson Range. The community boundary is shown in Figure 13-1. The community hazard assessment resulted in classifying Galena in the Moderate Hazard Category (50 points). A summary of factors that contributed to the hazard rating is included in Table 13-3. Primary factors that determined the hazard rating for the Galena community included the potential for hazardous fire behavior, hazardous fuel conditions, and limited access in some areas of the community.
The wildland-urban interface area in the Galena community is characterized as an intermix condition. There is no 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.
Almost all of the homes in the interface are built with non-combustible or ignition resistant siding such as medium density fiberboard, stucco, or brick. A great majority of the homes had roofs of non-combustible material such as tile, metal, or composition. Approximately nineteen percent of the homes observed had unenclosed balconies, porches, decks, or other architectural features that can create drafty areas where sparks and embers can be trapped, smolder, ignite, and rapidly spread fire to the house.
Approximately 82 percent of the homes surveyed in Galena have landscaping that meets defensible space guidelines to protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
The Nevada Division of Forestry Sierra Forest Fire Protection District has one career and two volunteer fire stations within the Galena Community. NDF Station 8 is staffed by four career personnel daily with three additional seasonal firefighters during fire season. The Galena Volunteer Fire Department has two stations and reported having twenty volunteers at the time that interviews were conducted for this report. Wildfire resources available to respond to a reported wildland fire in the Galena community are shown in Table 13-1.
|Type of Resource||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type 3
Water Tender Type 1
|Nevada Division of Forestry
(Station 8 - Galena)
|Engine Type 3
Engine Type 2
Engine Type 1
|Galena Volunteer Fire Department
(NDF Stations 81 and 82 - Galena)
|Source: Pete Cannizzaro, Chief Galena VFD; Joe Reinhardt, BC, Nevada Division of Forestry; Marty Scheuerman DC, Reno Fire Department; Roy Slate Volunteer Coordinator 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.
Water available for fire suppression in the Galena community includes fire hydrants with minimum flow capacities of 1,000 gpm and within 1,000 feet of structures. There are several water storage tanks for the water system, which operates by gravity and electric pumps with emergency back-up generators. Some of the older areas at the end of Callaghan Ranch Road do not have hydrants.
Fires are reported in the Galena area by calling 911, which connects the caller with the Washoe County 911 Center. Washoe County 911 notifies Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center (SFIDC) of wildland fires. SFDIDC notifies Galena V.F.D., Nevada Division of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service resources of fires through the use of pagers and radios. The Galena VFD radios were compatible with Nevada Division of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, and US Forest Service at the time of inquiry and the fire department had access to State Mutual Aid frequencies. Galena VFD does not have the Reno Fire Department 800 meg radios in all their engines. 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 Galena VFD responded to 400 calls in 2003 including 125 wildland/brush fire calls.
The financial support for the Galena Volunteer Fire Department 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. For fires within an NDF Fire Protection District, the state bears the financial responsibility for all costs resulting from actions taken by NDF 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 Galena VFD does pre-attack planning for fires with Nevada Division of Forestry career firefighters as part of their in-house annual fire training. The Galena Forest Estates Unit One has formed a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.
The Galena community is situated on the slopes and foothills at the base of the east slope of the Carson Range. Slopes in the community generally range between four and twenty percent with steeper slopes, greater than thirty percent, just west and south of the community. Elevations range from 5,400 and 6,200 feet. The prevailing wind direction is from the west and southwest. Downslope and cross slope winds are common in the afternoons of summer months. Saddles, chimneys, and steep mountain slopes are topographic features that funnel winds and could contribute to extreme fire behavior.
The fuels in upper Galena consist of a combination of sagebrush/bitterbrush and Jeffrey pine/sagebrush/bitterbrush vegetation types. In the sagebrush/bitterbrush fuel type, dominant species include mountain big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and bitterbrush with cheatgrass and perennial grass ground fuels. In these areas the fuel loads were estimated to range between two and four tons per acre, and were considered a high fuel hazard.
Upslope, Jeffrey pine, mountain mahogany, greenleaf manzanita, tobacco brush, bitterbrush, mountain big sagebrush, and rabbitbrush are the main fuel components. Ground fuels include cheatgrass, perennial grasses, squaw carpet, dead and down woody debris, pine needles, and pinecones. The shrub layer, ranging between three and four feet in height, can act as ladder fuels and carry fire into the tree canopy, causing an extremely dangerous crown fire. The fuel load for these conditions was estimated to range between six and eighteen tons per acre and was considered a high fuel hazard.
In areas further upslope, including the Galena State Park, the mixed coniferous forest includes Jeffrey pine, white fir, and incense cedar. In these areas, there is a larger degree of dead and down woody fuels and small trees, resulting in an extreme fuel hazard classification.
The worst-case scenario for Galena would be a dry lightning storm southwest to west of the community in late afternoon on a summer day. Strong downslope winds, greater than twenty miles per hour, would push fires into Galena Park - Galena Forest Estates and St. James Village. Fires could easily develop into a crown fire, making direct fire attack impossible. Evacuation of residents would be first priority. All the locked emergency access gates will slow the evacuation process and increase the potential for loss of human life. Without thinning timber and opening up canopies, direct fire attack will be impossible until fires reach brush fields to the north and east of the area at the lower elevation.
There is a high fire ignition risk in Galena due to summer afternoon thunderstorms and high public use of the area west of the community. The area has a history of multiple ignitions and large fires.
Various subdivisions in the Galena community have completed previously recommended or required fuel reduction treatments to comply with development conditions of approval including:
1977-1982 Galena Forest Estates Phase 1: The developer was required to thin the entire subdivision. Some lots were sold prior to thinning and did not receive treatment. Thinning was completed by NDF Conservation Camp Crews to remove ladder fuels and smaller trees.
1988 Whispering Pines: A brush hog was used to remove understory shrubs. Trees were thinned on 45 acres of the 47-acre subdivision.
1990 Galena Creek Regional Park - Galena: Smaller trees were thinned and ladder fuels were removed in the day-use areas and around the NDF residence.
1994 Guerra Development (Abies Court south of Galena Forest Estates): The developer was required to reduce fuels prior to sales by removing mountain mahogany and conducting some pre-commercial and commercial tree thinning.
1994-1996 St. James Village: The developer was required to thin each lot and remove 50 percent of the brush understory on each lot prior to street paving. Brush was treated with a brush hog and masticator.
1999- Scotch Pine: The developer was required to thin fuels on the lots in the primary area of development (home sites).
2001-2002 Calamont: In 2001, the golf course fairways were clear-cut and approximately 100 acres were commercially thinned. In 2002, the remaining 150 acres of forestland were commercially thinned. Approximately 86,000 board feet of saw logs were shipped to the Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) sawmill in Quincy, California, and 3,200 tons of biomass were chipped and shipped to the SPI wood-fired power plant in Loyalton, California.
2002-2003 St. James Village: In 2002, 100 acres were commercially thinned for fuel hazard reduction. Approximately 318,000 board feet of saw logs were sent to the SPI sawmill in Quincy, California; 4,200 tons of biomass were chipped and shipped to the SPI wood-fired power plant in Loyalton. 700 cords of firewood were shipped to a wood yard in Chilcoot, California. In 2003, a brush masticator was used to remove 50 percent of the brush on 65 acres of Homeowners’ Association green belt property.
2004 Galena Forest Estates Unit 1: In September of 2004, hand crews under contract with the Nevada Fire Safe Council completed fuel reduction treatments and defensible space treatments on three of the community parcels and several private lots within the Galena Forest Estates Unit 1 portion of the Galena community. The work was completed according to the specifications included in the Community Fire Risk, Hazard Reduction, and Project Implementation Plan (RCI 2003).
The responsibility to keep a community fire safe falls not only on the local fire protection district but also on the residents, businesses, and local governments. The recommendations for the Galena 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. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination and public education efforts that could be undertaken to enhance fire safety.
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||Reduce ladder fuels by removing brush and mountain mahogany from under larger Jeffrey pines.
Construct a shaded fuelbreak 300 feet wide along the west side of the Montreux Development.
Construct a shaded fuelbreak 300 feet wide shaded fuelbreak along the north side of Galena Forest Estates Unit One.
Construct and maintain a 200-foot wide fuelbreak around the Galena Terrace subdivision in Lower Galena.
|Community Coordination||Form additional local chapters 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||Remove trees and thin shrubs beneath power lines and utility poles. Maintain fifteen feet of clearance around utility poles.|
|US Forest Service||Fuels Reduction||Remove the brush understory from pine plantation.|
|Fuels Reduction||Thin trees in Galena Creek Regional Park.
Reduce ladder fuels by removing brush and mountain mahogany from under larger Jeffrey pines and pruning tree limbs.
Construct and maintain a 500-foot wide fuelbreak along State Route 431.
|Washoe County||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.
|Galena Volunteer Fire Department
Nevada Division of Forestry
|Resources and Training||Meet annually to review pre-attack plans for the community and test radio coverage and compatibility.|
|Public Education||Coordinate the development of an emergency evacuation plan for Galena area.
Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners.
Nevada Department of Transportation
|Fuel Reduction||Reduce and remove vegetation in county and state road right-of-ways to maintain an average four-inch vegetation height. Reseed treated areas to minimize cheatgrass and noxious weed invasion.|
Galena Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Galena Fire History, Suppression Resources, Critical Features, and Proposed Mitigation Projects