Group addresses issue that worries many firefighters |

Group addresses issue that worries many firefighters

Firefighters toss and turn at night after they look at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection map of forest fire danger in Nevada County.

A recommendation by the Nevada County Natural Heritage 2020 working group on forestry, however, might help them sleep a little better.

The reason for firefighters’ unease is this: The map of fire danger is colored the brightest red – indicating the highest fire danger – in most areas east of Highway 49.

Some of the very reasons that fire dangers are high – thickly wooded forests, rugged topography – also prove irresistible to people who dream of living in the Sierra. Every time a new rural house is built, the dangers of fire caused by humans grows. And every time a new house is built, the responsibility of firefighters increases.

Yet, a great many new residents of the foothills forests are blissfully unaware of the danger in which they have placed themselves. (In this, the newcomers aren’t alone. Many longtime residents of rural Nevada County apparently have decided the best way to deal with fire safety – including escape routes – is to avoid thinking about the subject at all.)

The NH 2020 forestry group suggests that everyone who gets a residential building permit should be required to visit either with the county’s fire planner or with a representative of a fire department before construction begins.

Already, the group notes, the county’s regulations require that new homes provide access and sufficient water for firefighters. The county’s fire planner works with property owners who subdivide land for residential lots, but firefighters’ review isn’t required when a building permit is issued.

It should be. Homeowners need to know the dangers and take steps to reduce the threat.

We are loath to support anything that will load further costs and regulatory burden onto people who want to build a home in Nevada County. There is no question that the additional review of fire dangers would add to the burden.

But the fire dangers are so grave in much of Nevada County that this step appears to be a reasonable safeguard to public safety.

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