Any time’s a good time to be careful with fire |

Any time’s a good time to be careful with fire

by John Hefner
Special to The R-C
AA home burns Saturday in the 2800 block of San Juan Circle in the Johnson Lane area. Units from Douglas County and Carson City responded to the blaze, which broke out in the early afternoon.

As we enter the fire season it is important for us to all consider how to be fire safe. Some of what you are about to read is simple common sense, but sometimes it is necessary to talk about things so you can remember the simple things.

Some years ago, there was a house fire down in Saratoga Springs which was caused by a barbecue. That home was destroyed and it sat abandoned for many years. It was an eyesore until the HOA took it over and finally resolved the issues.

So, what things can you do to not repeat the same fate? First off make sure you clean your grill. If it has a grease trap, empty it as it can be a source of fuel. If you don’t think you have one, you should go double check. Most propane setups have a tray you access from behind. It will need to be emptied and cleaned out. Use a steel brush to clean the grill itself. Food builds up and then lights off. Most of the time it burns off but scrapping it off before lighting the grill is a good precaution. One thing I am guilty of until tonight is to move the barbecue away from the house. It really shouldn’t be near the wall at all. I will be moving mine after I hit the send button to Kurt.

At the beginning of each season check your propane tank. When you get it filled make sure it is inspected and up to date. Yes, they do have to be inspected and certified from time to time. Do not keep food packaging near the grill. Take the meat out and put it on a platter before going to the grill. Here is a link to some great tips.

How many of us will be having a recreational campfire out on the patio? Recently there was a discussion on about the need for a permit for these small fire pits that are often sold as patio sets. I didn’t know about the requirement to get a permit from East Fork Fire District. I have had campfires on my patio for 25 plus years. The discussion was pretty lively but it is true.

Technically you should head down to the administrative offices on County Road and request a permit. The permits are free and they are good for a year. The biggest reason to obtain a permit is so the fire dispatchers know you have signed up for a recreational campfire. When your thoughtful neighbor calls to report a fire at your house the dispatchers will lookup your permit and call you before sending out the 5-engine alert. This saves resources for the district and can save you or me the hassle of all the red lights showing up in the drive way.

Naturally, the permit spells out the rules. You should call the number provided to advise them you are having a campfire. The pit should be a minimum of 25 feet from any structure. You need to have a hose and shovel or fire extinguisher nearby in case the fire gets out of hand. If you do not have a permit and the firemen are called out you can be subject to a $1,000 fine. You can also be held financially responsible for the response and efforts to extinguish the fire.

If you have landscaping make sure you have a clear zone around your home. I have a large juniper that I need to remove since it is close to the porch. It is a hazard and I recognize I need to address it. Pine trees are beautiful but they leave pinecones and needles. Over the years they pile up and can become fuel. The pinecones and needles need to be racked up and disposed of to mitigate the risk.

There is a great deal of information at your fingertips regarding living with fire. This site is very informational and interactive Fire isn’t just in the forest any more. Last year the Mendocino Complex and the Camp fires devastated communities. I understand some will say this isn’t California but fire doesn’t care about boundaries. It only seeks one thing which is fuel. Do yourself a favor and take a walk around your home and buildings. If you see something that concerns you then you need to act on it.

Short disclosure, while I do work for the Forest Service nothing in this article should convince you that I am a fire expert. If you need the advice of an expert, visit your local fire station or contact East Fork Fire Protection District at 775-782-9040. Finally, my last link for you is

I hope you have found this interesting and most of all I hope it moves you to take some action to protect your family and property.

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