What is a Fire Adapted Community?

A community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of these communities accept responsibility for 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.
  • Survive, if trapped by wildfire.

Rural Nevada at Risk

Elko County has more rural communities located in high- and extreme-wildfire hazard areas than anywhere else in Nevada. The potential for loss of human lives, property and livelihoods due to wildfire is growing. It is not a matter of “if” wildfire is going to occur, but “when.” Unfortunately, many residents and their homes are not prepared to survive wildfire. In response, the area’s local, state and federal firefighting agencies; University of Nevada Extension; and Elko County have come together to promote the Fire Adapted Community concept. They believe that this is the best response to our wildfire threat.

There are proven steps that homeowners can take to improve the odds of human life and home survival during wildfire. The Northeastern Nevada Fire Prevention Group’s goal is to promote and teach these steps. Once implemented at the neighborhood level, these suggestions will assist communities in becoming Fire Adapted Communities.

The Northeastern Nevada Fire Prevention Group consists of fire prevention staff from all federal, state and local fire suppression entities located within Elko County. The group was established to provide an interagency approach to communication and coordination for wildland fire prevention and education to the residents of Elko County.

Who Wins, Who Loses

Why do some houses survive a wildfire, while others are destroyed? Research findings prove that house survival during wildfire is not random, miraculous or dumb luck. Rather, it is the features of the house, the characteristics of the adjacent vegetation and other fuels, and routine maintenance that often determine which homes burn and which survive. These types of actions are called prefire activities. Prefire activities are actions completed before a wildfire occurs that improve the survivability of people and the home. The winners will be the people who implement prefire activities. When everyone in the neighborhood completes their prefire activities, they start becoming a Fire Adapted Community.

For the complete special report use the link button below.
In this publication you will find:

  • The Elements of a Fire Adapted Community
  • Community Protection
  • Access to property
  • Defensible space
    • Five Steps to Creating an Effective Defensible Space
  • Property Built Environment (exterior siding, vents, gutters,  eaves, etc.)
  • Evacuation plans
Smith, E., Sistare, S., Nejedlo, G. 2011, Fire Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness, Elko County, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, SP-16-02

Learn more about the author(s)


Also of Interest:

Screenshot of a map with an area highlighted in red.
CodeRED en el condado de Washoe
CodeRED es un sistema de notificaciones que envía mensajes de emergencia a personas ubicadas en regiones afectadas, como poblaciones o comunidades específicas.
Roice-Gomes, J., Adams, J., Kay, M., and Restaino, C. 2021, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-120
flood map of reno
CodeRED in Washoe County
If an emergency arises in Washoe County, public agencies utilize CodeRED to inform the public. Registering for CodeRED increases the likelihood that residents will receive these urgent notifications.
Roice-Gomes, J., Adams, J., Kay, M., Restaino, C. 2021, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-21-120
Living With Fire Program Needs Assessment and Evaluation
The Living With Fire Program, a 25-year-old wildfire preparedness initiative, recently conducted a needs assessment and evaluation to adapt to evolving community dynamics. Key
Restaino, C. and Putz, T. 2022, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, SP-22-17
The Governer of Nevada signing a multi-state proclamation with support of Nevadans around him.
Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month County Proclamation Wording
Customize your county proclamation in support of Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month- May 2020.
Roice-Gomes, J. 2020, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, IP-20
Choosing Turf and Erosion Control Grasses for the Lake Tahoe Basin
Planting grass near homes can control soil erosion and help create fire defensible space. Since the tragic Angora Fire in 2007, many Tahoe residents are re-evaluating their landscaping options for areas close to residences.
Cobourn, J., Skelly, J. 2009, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, SP-09-07

Associated Programs

living with fire cb

Living With Fire

Helping Nevadans and visitors prepare for wildfire