North Lake Tahoe Fire officials analyze available resources

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — As fire departments prepare for the possibility of another major fire season, officials are assuring residents that there are enough resources available, especially water.

Chief Ryan Sommers of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District has taken a deep look at the resources and infrastructure around Incline Village/Crystal Bay when dealing with a catastrophic event such as a wildfire .

According to the NLTFPD website, the identified goals and objectives, as outlined in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay Strategic Plan, will guide the community towards a more prepared future, however, it is important to recognize that issues unpredictable events will arise and impact how the district operates and provides services to the community.



This plan states that “these issues will provide both a challenge and an opportunity for our Board of Directors, Fire District Administrators and staff to consider, evaluate and work together to identify options and find solutions.” to the problems encountered during the Caldor fire. .”

One of the unpredictable issues Sommers addressed includes the amount of traffic Tahoe freeways can take while still getting people out safely and efficiently. In recent events, the Caldor fire and the evacuation of South Lake Tahoe have given insight to the NLTFPD.



“The strategic plan in place with collaborations between the Nevada Department of Transportation, CalTrans, the Washoe County Emergency Manager and a third-party resource is actively working together to produce zoning plans that should hopefully be released in later in the middle of summer,” Sommers said.

In the lead up to the water project recently discussed in local online forums, and an opinion piece in last week’s Tribune, posed the question of whether Incline Village/Crystal Bay would be left high and dry with not enough water. water during a catastrophic forest fire.

To understand the resources available, it is important to also understand that there are a variety of fire trucks that are used, depending on the situation.

“While Type I engines pump 1,500 gallons per minute, they are used for structural firefighting and are intended to be hooked up to fire hydrants,” Sommers said. “The engine cannot be used to move the wheels as it is used to pump water. This in turn puts equipment and crews at risk when used in wildfires.

Understanding the usage of each of the water engines is an essential step when evaluating the resources available when developing a wildfire plan for the community of Incline Village/Crystal Bay. Type I engines are used in situations that a crew member could safely position atop the engine where the nozzle must fight structural fires while Type III engine is used in more dynamic situations like forest fires.

“The use of Type I engines in wildfires is unrealistic,” Sommers said. “Type 3 engines allow crews to stay dynamic, they have to stay mobile. They fill the tank and go do their job.

The Insurance Services Office, better known as ISO, provides ratings to fire departments and the communities they serve. Over the history of the NLTFPD, there has been progress from an ISO of five in 1975 to the current ISO of One.

“In [an] ISO assessment, officers come in and review a variety of details within the department as a whole,” Sommers said. “Factors such as the location of the fire stations, the equipment housed in the fire stations, the equipment of the engines, the amount of hose, the type of nozzles we use, the level of response to specific stations , how many engines respond to a structure fire or motor vehicle accident, how many chief officers are in the district, and most importantly, how we respond.

The hot topic since the Caldor fire has focused on a limited resource and access to that resource: water.

“One of the main elements is the amount of water available to a community during a catastrophic event, such as a forest fire. Working with the Incline Village General Improvement District, we were off the charts when it came to the amount of water needed for this community. This is precisely what took us from an ISO 3 to an ISO 1. Our equipment had not changed since our last audit, no new fire stations had been built and the staffing level remained static. IVGID’s improved water infrastructure is really what gave us enough points to become an ISO 1 rated community.” – Ryan Sommers, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief

“One of the main elements is the water available to a community during a catastrophic event, such as a forest fire,” Sommers said. “Working with the Incline Village General Improvement District, we weren’t on top of the amount of water needed for this community. This is precisely what took us from an ISO 3 to an ISO 1. Our equipment had not changed since our last audit, no new fire stations had been built and the staffing level remained static. The improved water infrastructure by IVGID is really what gave us enough points to become an ISO 1 rated community.”

Community members who inquire about the Crystal Bay Water Pump can rest assured that the resource is a very realistic option should a wildfire strike the North Shore.

“Using the Crystal Bay water pump is absolutely viable,” Sommers said. “After speaking with IVGID, it wouldn’t take much to get the pump usable. We can run this pump between IVGID and NLTFPD.

Sommers also noted that the NLTFPD has millions of gallons in storage for water above the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area. Another backup uses Placer County water.

In unfortunate scenarios around the United States, it has become abundantly clear that regardless of the level of preparedness, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. Sommers echoes the Al Tahoe Firewise community in that “you’re only as safe as your neighbors.”

NLTFPD is ready and willing to partner with community members to increase the number of Firewise communities on the North Shore.

Sommers concluded with reminders to prepare a defensible space around your home and encourage neighboring lots to do the same, have your family’s escape plan composed, know what you’ll grab and where you’ll meet, and especially listening to local authorities about when to evacuate.

See the full NLTFPD Strategic Plan at https://nltfpd.org/strategic-plan

See the full emergency preparedness guide at https://nltfpd.org/preparedness

Engines from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District tower over the area they serve, including (left to right) a ladder truck, a squad truck, and three Type I engines.
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