Our View: All signs point to need for fire safety measures | TheUnion.com

Our View: All signs point to need for fire safety measures

You couldn’t miss the flashing sign on Highway 49, north of its intersection with Combie Road.

Warning of the danger of fireworks in Nevada County, the sign emphasized the high fire danger we face.

The July Fourth holiday has passed, and hopefully with it the need to light explosives until they pop. However, the danger our community faces from fire is here to stay for months, and we could all use a flashing sign reminding us of that.

Fire danger was easy to forget in January and February, when we used shovels to fill sandbags and thwart possible flooding. Now those rains have led to thicker, denser grass that make a blaze harder to extinguish once it gets hold.

This is a problem we experience every summer. The rains disappear and the fear creeps in.

Why, then, do we continue each year to wring our hands and fail to take action to ensure we’re protected from the flames?

The reason is because this isn’t a problem that goes away when you throw money at it. The possibility of fire is ubiquitous. It can stem from a possible cigarette, a property owner welding in a field, a lightning strike or any number of unknown causes.

We must take action to protect ourselves and demand authorities arrest perpetrators, fine them and, if warranted, take them to court.

Because what good is a law that isn’t enforced?

You see an officer on the road, you slow down. We need to have that level of awareness when it comes to fire.

That awareness will come with increased enforcement — fines and even jail time for those who because of intent or gross negligence cause these fires.

Nevada County officials don’t have the resources to examine every property and ensure people are keeping a defensible space. We — the neighbors, the passersby — need to contact authorities when we see a property in noncompliance. If their property burns, so do others. We must work together, and, yes, call each other out, to make our community fire safe.

The county can create a defensible space on a noncompliant property and then put a lien on it to recoup the money. That ordinance should be strengthened and rigorously enforced.

All of us can do more to fix this problem.

Take some time to learn what you can do at the Nevada County Fire Safe Council’s website: http://www.areyoufiresafe.com. If you can, visit today’s AirFest at the Nevada County Airport and look at the Grass Valley Air Attack Base. Thank the people who keep our homes and businesses safe when the worst happens.

Let’s turn these little actions into large signs we carry with us each day, and remember our role in fire safety every time we pass by the flashing lights.

The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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