Fire chiefs have views on defensible space and scenic landscaping |

Fire chiefs have views on defensible space and scenic landscaping

Rick Adair, Tribune News Service

Expressing concern about landscaping and architectural design regulations proposed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, chiefs of Tahoe Basin’s six fire districts have urged the agency to “seek input from fire safety experts and to rank fire safety among its greatest concerns.”

The regulations, aimed at reducing unnatural eyesores of shorezone buildings, suggest landscaping to screen lake-facing exteriors to achieve some of the reduction.

The chiefs in a letter dated Friday to TRPA Governing Board Chairman Dean Heller wrote defensible space around homes and forest management that achieves natural and man-made firebreaks provided safeguards against fire.

“We’ll collectively work with TRPA on this,” said North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Jim Linardos in comments Thursday. “There’s been a lot of hearsay on this subject, and we’d like to sit down with them and sort through the issues.”

Linardos said TRPA discussed the matter with a member of his staff several months ago, but said the results of the discussion were never formalized.

He said he would be meeting next week with the Nevada State Fire Marshall and State Forester Fire Warden to discuss ramifications, if any, of the proposed ordinances to the Uniform Fire Code.

TRPA spokeswoman Jill Keller said the health and safety of residents and tourists in the Tahoe Basin were among the top concerns of TRPA, but said the proposed regulations wouldn’t compromise these.

“The (scenic ordinances) do not pose potential fire hazards for homeowners,” Keller responded Tuesday. “We are willing to meet with fire officials within the basin to address any specific concerns they may have, and explain any part of this ordinance they have questions about.”

She added that landscape screening can be offset from a building to ensure there is no fire hazard.

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