May is Lake Tahoe Wildfire Awareness Month

Black background with Prepare Your Home for Wildfire in white, red, and yellow letters


With record drought conditions in the West, preparing your home for wildfire is more important than ever.  May is designated Wildfire Awareness Month (WAM) in the Lake Tahoe Basin.  This year’s theme is “Prepare Your Home for Wildfire” with a focus on creating and sustaining Fire Adapted Communities.

A Fire Adapted Community (FAC) is a community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire.  Residents of these communities recognize the responsibility of living in a high fire-hazard area.  They possess the knowledge and skills to prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire, evacuate early, safely and effectively, and survive, if trapped by wildfire.

As part of this year’s theme, the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit encourages residents to work with their local Fire Districts and host neighborhood block parties during May and throughout the summer.  These parties create an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other, meet their Fire District and agency representatives and learn what it means to become a Fire Adapted Community.

“The Forest Service encourages homeowners in the Lake Tahoe Basin to work with their local fire districts to learn more about defensible space,” said Forest Service Fire Chief, Kit Bailey.  “As members of a forest community, planning ahead is vital to the survival of our homes and neighborhoods.  Wildfire Awareness Month is an excellent time to prepare your home and neighborhood for the next wildfire.”

Things homeowners can do to become more fire adapted include:

  • Talk to local fire departments about how to prepare for a wildfire, situational awareness, when to evacuate, and what communities should expect during a response. 
  • Contact local fire departments to conduct a property risk assessment.
  • Create a plan to address issues in the Defensible Space Zone, including:
    • maintaining a non-combustible area around the home perimeter
    • managing vegetation along fences
    • clearing debris from decks, patios, eaves, and porches
    • selecting proper landscaping and plants
    • knowing the local ecology and fire history
    • moving radiant heat sources away from the home (wood piles, fuel tanks, sheds)
    • thinning trees and ladder fuels around the home
  • Develop a personal and family preparedness plan.
  • Support land management agencies by learning about wildfire risk reduction efforts, such as using prescribed fire to manage local landscapes.
  • Contact local planning/zoning offices to find out if the home is in a high wildfire risk area and if there are specific local or county ordinances to follow.
  • Work with homeowner associations to identify regulations that incorporate proven preparedness landscaping, home design, and building material such as the recommendations from the Lake Tahoe Basin Living with Fire website.

For more information about WAM and planned events, or to locate local fire districts visit http://www.livingwithfire.info/tahoe/.