Tips to make your home safer during fire season |

Tips to make your home safer during fire season

Jane Lehrman
Silver and Sage coordinator

If you aren’t able to do anything else this year to improve your home, Steve Eisele, deputy fire chief/fire marshal of East Fork Fire District has some important suggestions to prevent fires and keep your home safe.

“People who live in a home in an ordinary neighborhood need to immediately make some preparation to prepare defensive space, although it never may be necessary to be ready,” Eisele said. “Wildland fires can hit urban areas right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

“The work to be done depends on what has been planted or even on the native plants such as sage brush that already exist. It is a full-time job to maintain. In this climate there is not much green year-round, some plants die out and come back. All plants drop needles and leaves and there is cheat grass – all dangerous fire hazards.

“Be ready in case of a fire nearby. Prepare your yard to be fire safe – water plants, cut back dead vegetation and remove dead fuels on the ground.

“Be prepared to evacuate with personal belongings. Secure the house, close windows and have your car filled with enough gas to get away. If you decide to stay and fight the fire, it is a hazardous move. If everyone is using a garden hose to protect his or her property there will be no water pressure left for the fire department hydrants.

“Almost all shrubbery is dangerous. It looks green, but contains oils and will burn readily. Some shrubs are green year-round, but by summer there is dead refuse underneath. An ember can blow in, smolder and ignite. Any of your shrubbery near the house should be trimmed up from the bottom and the material underneath raked away.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t many natural plants that won’t catch fire easily – grass, sagebrush, pinion pines all contain oils and drop dead material. For those who have junipers close to the house I suggest either replacing them or trim and keep clean underneath.

“In our area, no one place is more dangerous than others. We need to think what we can do to reduce the threat of fire before it starts. If you have to evacuate, be sure to take personal belongings, documents, personal phone book diaries and pets.

“It is hard to protect large window or glass doors. If there are no shutters it is wise to remove shrubs from that area and install heavy curtains or blinds to block the radiant heat that could pop the glass and let the flames inside the house.”

Eisele has been the fire chief/fire marshal since 1994. He started as an inspector for the district since he had a background in fire services in California and, in one and a half years, was promoted to his present position. His dad was in fire service for 25 years.

Douglas County has an unusual situation as far as the combination of volunteer and professional fire fighters. The East Fork District runs from Carson City to Topaz. They have a combination staff of career workers and a large complement of volunteers.

The district covers 625 square miles and they do it all – EMT, structure fires, Hazmat rescues – with 200 volunteers, 50 career persons plus an office staff. There is one chief and three deputies.

Eisele has lived in this area for 17 years, since 1990, moving from Santa Cruz, Calif.

“We traded the ocean for the Sierras,” he laughed.

He and his wife have two daughters, one a senior in high school who will be attending University of Nevada, Reno to become a teacher, and one who is a freshman in high school and competition soccer player. His wife works in Carson City as a physical therapist.

“My final suggestions are to prevent fires in the first place and be careful of fire around your homes,” Eisele said.

“Mother Nature will always come up with problems such as lightning, so be prepared. Parents need to instill fire safety rules in their children and our department has classes and counseling for them. Juveniles can be a huge problem.”

For information, call 782-9041.


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