ECHPOA members are aware of wildfire dangers and have worked on Firewise projects to decrease the risk of losing their homes for many years. In February 2017 ECHPOA received official notification from the Colorado State Forest Service as to achieving 2016 Recognized Firewise Community status. There are currently more than 1200 Recognized Firewise Communities from across the nation, with 3 of those being close neighbors; KZ Ranch, Woodside Park, and Deer Creek Valley Ranchos. This program is a multi-agency effort involving homeowners, community leaders, and local fire fighters to develop a plan of action in protecting people, property, and natural resources by reducing the risk of wildfires spreading while building a safer place to live. Firewise communities allow fire fighters to concentrate on fighting the wildfire using defensible spaces that prevent fires from advancing and endangering homes and lives. It also improves property values, community relationships, and may even reduce insurance premiums. Becoming a Recognized Firewise Community may also help us obtain federal funding for things such as a wood chipper.
This is an on-going project which requires ANNUAL renewal of our recognition by submitting documentation of our continued participation. We need community members to take responsibility for reducing wildfire risks, document your time and expenses, and submit that documentation and copies of receipts to ECHPOA. Both the hours and money spent on mitigating properties, listening to speakers, buying and posting reflective address signs, hiring someone to cut down a tree, and disposal of slash can all be used towards our ANNUAL Recognized Firewise Community requirements.
The current minimum requirement set by Firewise is $2.00 per capita annually and the current labor rate used to calculate volunteer hours spent on Firewise efforts is $23.56 per hour. Therefore, the goal for ECHPOA to achieve Recognized Firewise Community status for 2017 is $1,748. This total was calculated by using 380 properties in the ECHPOA community, multiplied by 2.3 people per property, multiplied by $2.00 per capita. This is approximately 74.5 volunteer hours needed between all participants. This total was calculated by taking the $1,748 goal and dividing it by $23.56 per hour set by Firewise. For an example, if we have 20 volunteers, each volunteer would only need to spend about 3.5 hours per year on Firewise mitigation. The number of hours needed would be reduced by any Firewise expenses incurred.
Many neighbors are willing to help each other with property mitigation needs. If you are interested in becoming involved, able to volunteer, need volunteer help, or have any questions, please contact a Firewise Community Representative. Their contact information can be found on the Contact Us menu option above.
For more information about this program go to www.firewise.org/usa. Send your Firewise documentation and receipts to ECHPOA, 86 Elk Creek Drive, Bailey, CO 80421.
The following was taken directly from the Becoming a Recognized Firewise Community/USA brochure, with added comments in parentheses from speakers at our meetings:
“The more you can eliminate the things that can lead a wildfire to your home, the more likely your home will survive,” notes Judith Leraas Cook, project manager of the Firewise Communities/USA Recognition Program.
- Clear the build up of pine needles and leaves from the base of the house and any connecting structures which could otherwise ignite the home’s siding.
- Create a three-foot, fire-free area on all sides of your home.
- Clear gutters of leaves and debris.
- Trim any limbs on trees hanging over the house.
- “Limb up” trees around the house by removing lower limbs that are 10 to 15 feet from the ground. (For smaller trees use the 1/3 the height scale)
- Use metal flashing at all connection points of structures, such as wooden fences attached to the house.
- Clear trees and shrubs of dead material and keep them pruned. Space trees and shrubs far enough apart to slow the spread of an approaching wildfire. (Crowns of trees should be 15 feet apart, can have groups of 3 trees, flames can reach 2 times the height of vegetation, steeper slow farther apart)
- Regularly care for your property to keep it free of all dead leaves and needles.
- Choose deciduous trees, rather than evergreens, when planting close to your home. Sap from evergreens is a good fuel for fire. Deciduous plants burn more slowly.
- Install glass skylights. Plastic melts during a fire.
- Store firewood well away from you house, particularly during fire-season. (At least 15 feet)
- Remove excess vegetation along roads and remove chipped wood immediately after cutting.
- Use non-flammable (Class A) roofing materials.
- Plant native wildflowers and fire-resistant plants, keep lawns green and irrigated as they serve as good fire breaks, as do rock gardens and xeriscapes. (Keep mowed within 15 feet of any structures)
- Remember that wide driveways, non-flammable walkways and other pathways can slow or stop the spread of a wildfire.
To read about the ECHPOA wildfire evacuation drill conducted on May 20, 2017, please refer to the North Park County Evacuation Drill 2017 After Action Review document.
To read about the Wildfire Evacuation presentation given by Joe Burgett, Assistant Fire Chief, on March 6, 2013, please refer to the Ready, Set, Go page under the Firewise menu option.
To learn more about ISO classifications, please refer to the Insurance Services Office handout.
To learn more about property and home fire threat preparedness, please refer to the Ready, Set, Go handout.
To learn more about evacuation levels, please refer to the Wildfire Evacuation handout.
To learn more about how to sign up for the new Code Red Emergency Notification System, please refer to the Code Red handout.
To read about Erosion Controls and Native Grass Seed Mixes posted by Paul Ellis on May 18, 2012, please refer to the Erosion Controls page under the Firewise menu option.
To view the 2 handouts provided at the special meeting held on March 28, 2015, click on the following titles:
- Protecting Your Home from Wildfire: Creating Wildfire-Defensible Zones
- Fuel Break Guidelines for Forested Subdivisions & Communities
To view the 4 CUSP brochures (Coalition for the Upper South Platte) obtained August 2016, click on the following titles:
- Bailey Slash Site
- Neighborhood Fuels Reduction Program
- A Healthy Watershed – Now and in the Future
- Most Wanted List – Noxious Weeds