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The Pleasant Valley community is located approximately four miles south of Reno between Steamboat and Washoe City. The community is situated at the base of the Carson Range and Virginia Range foothills. The community boundary is shown in Figure 20-1. The community hazard assessment resulted in classifying Pleasant Valley in the Moderate Hazard Category (41 points). A summary of factors that contributed to the hazard rating is included in Table 20-3. Primary factors that determined the hazard rating in Pleasant Valley included the potential fire behavior factors and high number of homes with flammable roofing materials.
The wildland-urban interface area in Pleasant Valley 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 ten acres 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 fourteen percent of the homes observed have 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 84 percent of the homes surveyed in Pleasant Valley have landscaping that meets defensible space guidelines to protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
The Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department provides fire protection for the Pleasant Valley community. Pleasant Valley is included in the Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire District. The volunteer fire department has one station and reported having twenty volunteers at the time the interviews were conducted for this report. The closest resources available to respond to a reported wildland fire are summarized in Table 20-1.
|Type of Resource||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type 1
Engine Type 3
Engine Type 6
|Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department
(Truckee Meadows Station 43)
|Source: John Schuler, Chief Pleasant Valley VFD; Marty Scheuerman DC, Reno Fire Department; Roy Slate Volunteer Coordinator Reno Fire Department.|
Water available for fire suppression in Pleasant Valley includes fire hydrants with minimum flow capacities of 1,000 gallons per minute within 1,000 feet of structures. The water system includes several storage tanks. The water system operates on gravity and electric pumps. Structures east of Highway 395 do not have hydrants.
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.
Communication frequencies are currently compatible between agencies. 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 to meet the NWCG 310-1 standards.
The Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department responded to 165 calls in 2003 that included 25 wildland/brush fire calls.
Financial support for the Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department is provided from the Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire District and fundraisers.
Washoe County maintains an Emergency Plan for Hazardous Materials and an All-Risk Disaster Plan through the Washoe County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The terrain surrounding Pleasant Valley is flat in the valley bottom with steeper south-facing slopes on the north and east sides of the valley. Many homes are located on the hillsides in narrow canyons. The prevailing wind direction is from the southwest and west. Downslope winds common during summer afternoons.
In the northwest portion of Pleasant Valley and near the Pleasant Valley fire station, the dominant vegetation consists of big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and occasional bitterbrush with a grass layer of cheatgrass and perennial grasses. The fuel load in these areas was estimated at two to three tons per acre and was considered a moderate fuel hazard. In the southwest part of Pleasant Valley, south of the Pagni Ranch and west to the service road from Pleasant Valley to St. James Village, the same shrub composition exists, but shrub stands are denser and taller. Fuel loads were estimated at four to six tons per acre and considered a high fuel hazard.
The worst-case scenario would be a dry lightning storm on a late afternoon in the summer of a year with above normal precipitation and abundant cheatgrass production. Multiple fire ignitions and strong erratic winds, greater than twenty miles per hour, would push multiple fires down slope and into structures from any direction. The heaviest fuel loadings are located on the south and east sides of the valley with a narrow strip behind structures on the northwest side of the valley. Homes with wood shake roofs and inadequate defensible space in neighborhoods without fire hydrants would be quickly threatened and at greatest risk.
There is a high potential for fire ignition in the Pleasant Valley area due to summer afternoon thunderstorms and high use of the area by the public. The area has a history of multiple ignitions and large fires.
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. Providing and maintaining defensible space is the most important recommendation for the Pleasant Valley community.
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.
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.|
|Community Coordination||Improve address visibility from the road.
Participate in public education opportunities and become knowledgeable of emergency evacuation procedures
|Utility Company||Fuels Reduction||Reduce and maintain vegetation in power line corridors. Maintain fifteen feet of clearance around utility poles. Maintain thirty feet of clearance from the fence around power substations.|
Nevada Department of Transportation
|Fuels Reduction||Reduce and remove vegetation in county road right-of-ways to maintain an average four-inch vegetation height within twenty feet of the edge of pavement. Reseed treated areas to minimize cheatgrass and noxious weed invasion|
|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.
Develop and/or enforce 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.
|Pleasant Valley VFD||Resources and Training||Meet annually with the Nevada Division of Forestry, the Truckee Meadows Fire Department, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service to discuss and update pre-attack plans for the community and test radio coverage and compatibility.|
|Public Education||Develop an emergency evacuation plan for Pleasant Valley area.
Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners.
Pleasant Valley Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Pleasant Valley Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Critical Features