Fire Safe Council seeks state, vs. fed, funding | NevadaAppeal.com

Fire Safe Council seeks state, vs. fed, funding

Carson City residents affected by last summer’s Waterfall fire were among 40 residents supporting a request by the Nevada Fire Safe Council seeking almost $1.4 million from the state.

Saying it can’t count on federal funding this year, the council Monday asked the state to provide money for both the operations and grant fund of the statewide fire-planning organization.

Sen. John Lee, D-Las Vegas, said the council provides education and helps remove fire hazards for residents in all parts of the state. He said the program is vital because Nevada is “consistently among the top five states in acreage burned every year.”

SB497 seeks $385,000 to cover the operating costs of the council and the salaries of its three-full time and three half-time employees.

But the big ticket in the bill is $1 million a year to cover up to 16 community grants.

Elwood Miller, representing the council, said that money has come from the federal government since the Fire Safe Council began in 2001. But he said with the pressure to cut the federal budget, he doubts those grants will keep coming.

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Ed Smith of the council’s board of directors said the council is the only program funding projects to make communities safer during fire season. He said that includes clearing brush, creating fire breaks, developing disaster plans for communities, and educating homeowners and businesses.

He was backed up by several residents who testified to the value of the council’s programs.

Charlene Meenan of Glenbrook said the council helped cover costs of creating a firebreak and a plan to protect that Tahoe Basin community.

“Other programs, they talk about doing projects,” she said. “The Fire Safe Council gets the money to the ground.”

She was joined by more than 40 residents, many from the west wide of Carson City who suffered through the Waterfall fire.

Several other lawmakers, including Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon; Assemblyman Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas; and Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, also testified in favor of the funding, as did Gary Bishop representing the Nevada insurance industry.

The committee took no action on SB497.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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