Carson man promotes fire hazard reduction work |

Carson man promotes fire hazard reduction work

Jill Lufrano
Ed Smith stands in front of his office Wednesday morning. Seth Meyer Nevada Appeal

Letting sheep graze on C Hill was one of the more memorable moments in Ed Smith’s career of reducing fire fuels in the Carson City area.

“I didn’t sleep very well the whole time they were there,” Smith said, recounting nightmares he had of wayward sheep wandering through streets to the lawn of the Legislature. “But it all worked out very well.”

The experiment lasted one month in 1999, when 350 sheep brought in from Winnemucca munched through 45 acres. The plan successfully reduced grasses and might be used again, Smith said.

Smith’s interest in fire-prevention work started 16 years ago in Incline Village. He earned a master’s degree in natural resources from the University of Reno, Nevada. He first worked for eight years in Carson City for Resource Concepts Inc.

Then he took a job with the university’s Cooperative Extension office in Incline Village, where he met Fire Marshal Jerry Adams in 1988. The two shared expertise and background.

“Over time, it has occupied more and more of my time,” Smith said. “You’d be hard pressed to find a more critical issue.”

The three fire threats to communities are weather, topography and fire fuels. Of those, fire fuels are the only factor residents can control, Smith said.

“The solution to this issue comes down to managing vegetation,” he said.

In 1999, Smith became an organizer of the state Nevada Fire Safe Council. The council was formed during a Living with Fire convention at which 120 attendees – fire agencies, educators, ranchers, homeowners and elected officials -decided to create an organization to pull fire resources together.

“Nevadans being like they are, they didn’t want it to be a form of government,” Smith said. “They wanted to be owing to no one.”

The nonprofit group began gathering grants and funding, and eventually hired a director. Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators gave the budding organization its first $1,000, and it has taken off from there, Smith said. He is the chairman of the council’s board of directors.

Today, the council has encouraged several communities to form chapters. The neighborhood groups take the lead for fire prevention clearing, and the council steers them in the right direction with grants and partnerships with local fire agencies.

Carson City has one chapter in Clear Creek. Timberline and Lakeview communities are trying to form chapters. Several chapters have formed in Douglas and Washoe counties.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.


Form a Fire Safe Council

Call Director Elwood Miller at (775) 322-2413.

For Lakeview, call Marie Bresch at 883-1399.