Carson City Fire Department is a Career Department in Carson City, Nevada, serving a residential population of over 55,000 people and has implemented a trailer program to facilitate community mitigation.
In 2006 Carson City Fire Department conducted a survey to poll residents on their reasons for not mitigating their properties, and the survey results revealed that a common barrier identified was residents not having the means or tools to dispose of the vegetation removed to create defensible space. To create a solution that would facilitate mitigation in the community, Carson City Fire Department established a mitigation trailer program that would place trailers in communities for residents to load their removed vegetation, and then the department would haul the trailers to the local landfill. In 2019 alone (as of October 31, Oct 2019), this trailer program has removed 270 tons of hazardous vegetation with over 450 residences participating.
The department initially purchased two 6x12 hydraulic dump trailers, but over the years, they have increased to five trailers due to the levels of participation from the community. As the program has grown and the amount of vegetation being removed exceeded the capacity of trailers, the department purchased 30-yard dumpsters to meet the needs. This program is a collaborative effort across agencies as Carson City Public Works delivers the dumpsters .
To increase the department’s capacity to implement mitigation projects, the trucks to pick up the trailers and then tow them to the landfill are driven by retired firefighters who serve as part-time contractors. This allows the equipment to be managed by people with fire service subject matter knowledge but allows department staff to conduct other fuel reduction projects in the community. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of the trailer program is bolstered by the fact that the department was able to work with local utility providers to have the tow vehicles donated.
Carson City’s general vegetation type is a high elevation desert sage/ bitter brush community (Fuel Model 6). These types of vegetation do not chip well, so identifying an alternative means for creating a community mitigation program was imperative. This trailer program provided a viable solution for facilitating mitigation across Carson City’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), as only parcels within the WUI are eligible for the program to ensure the department is targeting high-risk area. Residents are creating defensible space, while the department continues to provide support by assisting with the disposal of the removed vegetation. Since the inception of the program, over 4000 tons of hazardous vegetation has been removed from at-risk WUI communities. This is equivalent to eight fully loaded 747 airliners.
For over ten years, the Carson City Fire Department has implemented an effective mitigation program utilizing trailers and dumpsters after surveying its community to determine what barriers were preventing residents from creating defensible space. Currently, this collaborative effort led by the department continues to grow thanks to participating residents and partnerships with Public Works, local utility companies, and retired fire service personnel.