Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
Washoe Valley-East is located south of Pleasant Valley and east of Washoe Lake. Washoe Valley-East is situated at the base of the west-facing slope of the Virginia Range foothills. The community is bordered to the south and west by the Washoe Lake State Park and to the east by Bureau of Land Management administered public lands. The community boundary is shown in Figure 30-1. The community hazard assessment resulted in classifying Washoe Valley-East in the Moderate Hazard Category (53 points). A summary of factors that contributed to the hazard rating is included in Table 30-3. Primary factors that determined the hazard rating in Washoe Valley-East include the potential for hazardous fire behavior based on fuel hazards and topographic conditions in the community and limited fire suppression resources.
The wildland-urban interface area in the Washoe Valley-East 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 in the community are located on lots between one and ten acres 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. Ninety-one percent of the residences have roofs of non-combustible material such as tile, metal, or composition. Approximately sixteen 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 87 percent of the homes surveyed in the Washoe Valley-East community have landscaping that meets defensible space guidelines to protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
Fire suppression services for Washoe Valley-East is provided by Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire District. The standard Reno Fire Department dispatch for a wildland fire is shown in Table 30-1. Other local, state, and federal resources are available upon request through mutual agreements as described in Section 4.1.1.
|Type of Resource||Amount of Equipment||Cooperating Partner
|Engine Type III
Engine Type I
|Reno Fire Department
(Closest available career and volunteer resources)
|Source: Roy Slate, and Marty Scheuerman, Reno Fire Department|
There are no fire hydrants in the Washoe Valley-East community. The closest hydrant is in Washoe City. The estimated round trip time to additional water supplies to refill fire apparatus is approximately twenty minutes away, or less. Washoe Lake and Little Washoe Lake can be used as a helicopter dip site and drafting site during years when the lakes hold water throughout the summer.
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.
Reno/Truckee Meadows volunteer and career firefighters are required to have at least forty hours of basic wildland training and they are required to attend eight hours of annual wildland refresher training.
Financial support for the Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire Department is provided through the City of Reno General Fund and Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District (NRS 474).
The terrain in the Washoe Valley-East community is characterized by southwest-facing hillsides, eight to twenty percent slope, and flatter terrain toward Washoe Lake. The prevailing wind direction in the community is from the west and southwest.
Vegetative fuels on the south, east, and north sides of the community, including interior parcels, primarily consist of bitterbrush, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and desert peach, with cheatgrass, and perennial grasses under the shrub canopies. Shrub heights generally range between three and seven feet tall. The fuel loads in these areas were estimated at four to eight tons per acre and were considered a high fuel hazard. On the southwest side of the community near the Scripps Wildlife Refuge, the vegetation consists of rabbitbrush, greasewood, and big sagebrush with saltgrass in the understory. Fuel loads in this area were estimated at three to four tons per acre and were considered a moderate fuel hazard.
The worst-case scenario for the Washoe Valley-East community would be a dry lightning storm late on a summer afternoon, during a year with above normal precipitation and abundant cheatgrass production. Strong erratic winds, greater than twenty miles per hour could push fires started from multiple ignitions into the community from several directions. Interior lots with dense brush and structures with poor defensible space are at increased risk of structure loss. Fire suppression operations in areas without water storage must be supported by water tenders, which could delay fire containment and control.
There is a high ignition risk in the Washoe Valley-East community due to summer afternoon thunderstorms and high use of the area by the public. The area has some 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. The recommendations for the Washoe Valley-East community focus primarily on additional efforts that could be taken by community members and public agencies to increase wildland fire safety through reduction of fuels that pose a hazard. 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.
Meet annually with the Nevada Division of Forestry, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service to review pre-attack plans and to coordinate firefighting resources and response procedures including testing radio compatibility and coverage. Upgrade radios to new narrowband/digital technologies as needed to maintain communications with the federal agencies.
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|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix E.|
|Community Coordination||Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.
Improve address visibility from the road.
|Public Education||Participate in public education opportunities and become knowledgeable of emergency evacuation procedures|
|Fuels Reduction||Reduce fuels by thinning brush and grass on undeveloped lots. Reseed if necessary to control noxious weeds.|
|Bureau of Land Management
Nevada State Parks
|Fuels Reduction||Include construction and maintenance of a fuelbreak 200 feet wide around the community perimeter, east of East Lake Boulevard as part of the New Washoe City Fuels Treatment Project.|
|Utility Company||Fuels Reduction||Remove trees and thin shrubs beneath power lines and utility poles. Maintain fifteen feet of clearance around utility poles.|
Nevada Department of Transportation
|Fuels Reduction||Reduce and remove vegetation in road right-of-ways to maintain an average four-inch vegetation height. 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 aspects, building construction and spacing, road construction and design, 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.
|Reno/Truckee Meadows Fire Department||Resources and Training||Meet annually with the Nevada Division of Forestry, the US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to discuss and update pre-attack plans for the community and test radio coverage and compatibility.|
|Community Coordination||Develop an emergency evacuation plan for the Washoe Valley-East community.|
|Public Education||Distribute copies of the publication “Living with Fire” to all property owners.|
Washoe Valley - East Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Washoe Valley - East Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Proposed Mitigation Treatments