Fire-safety recipe – Prevention proposal to go before Board of Supervisors today |

Fire-safety recipe – Prevention proposal to go before Board of Supervisors today

When Keith and Ellyn Cook started thinking in March about building a second home on the 10-acre parcel of land they share with his parents at the end of Jones Bar Road, they discovered that 14-year old state fire laws stood in the way.

The couple’s road was considered a dead end under fire laws. This meant that, according to the current law, they couldn’t build another house, explained Keith Cook. Their suggestions for having a pond, a metal roof, and fire-safe material in their home to reduce hazards could not sway fire officials into considering their plans.

That is when they decided to become involved in the county-wide process to create the fire plan that goes before the Nevada County Board of Supervisors today.

The process started on Sept. 23, 2003, using 18 community meetings and 15 public workshops to generate input into what residents want and need in the county. The 97-page document is meant to serve as a recipe for how to make homes in Nevada County safe from the threat of wildland fire.

Today the board can approve the proposed fire plan, which would mark the first step in the county’s endeavor to reduce fire-prone overgrowth while making the county fire-safe, said Tony Clarabut, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit.

“Generally they have tried to respond to the community and the questions they have raised,” said Pat Davison, field director of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners, adding that one concern she still has is making sure there are enough illustrations and visual elements to help residents understand what needs to be done.

Nevada County is not the first California county to adopt such a plan. However, each county can tailor its plans. For example, as part of Ventura County’s fire plan, in certain cases property owners can be held responsible for neighbors who fail to reduce overgrowth, explained Clarabut. While it is successful in Ventura County, “the public didn’t like that here,” so they took it out, he said.

The Cooks hope the plan will help them build a second home, despite being on a dead-end road. He and his wife have spent about $1,200 in improvements to make their home fire-safe; further work will cost more.

However, Keith Cook believes the plan encourages community involvement. He has been to several of the meetings and feels that despite the potential costs and work, “once it is explained to them, people accept it.”

If residents still have questions about their specific property after looking over the fire plan, they can ask a crew from their local fire department to determine the home’s level of safety and give recommendations, said Nevada County Consolidated Fire Marshal Vern Canon.


Read the complete Nevada County Fire Plan here:

August 2004

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