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 Recognized Firewise Community status. Volunteers continue to work hard, and in November 2018, ECHPOA achieved their second year recognition. There are currently more than 1500 Recognized Firewise Communities from across the nation, with 3 of those being close neighbors; KZ Ranch, Woodside Park, and Deer Creek Valley Ranchos. To view a list of all Colorado Firewise Communities go to https://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/colorado-firewise-communities. 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.
In 2018 the minimum requirement set by Firewise was modified. Instead of $2.00 per capita annually, it is now one hour per household. Based on the National Hourly Volunteer Rate of $24.14 (as of May 2017 and updated annually) and the number of houses in our community which is about 330, the goal for ECHPOA to achieve Recognized Firewise Community status has increased to $7,966.20 each year. For an example, if we have 20 volunteers, each volunteer would need to spend 16.50 hours per year on Firewise mitigation. The number of hours needed would also be reduced by any Firewise expenses incurred, such as paying for trees to be cut or cut branches to be taken to the Bailey Slash Site. Bottom line is, the more community members that are willing to participate, the easier it will be on everyone and the safer our community will become!
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 hours worked and copies of receipts to ECHPOA, 86 Elk Creek Drive, Bailey, CO 80421.
To see our initial Recognized Firewise Community status and official notification letter go to https://echpoa.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/recognized-firewise-community-status-and-letter.pdf. To see our second year recognition go to https://echpoa.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/2018-firewise-status.pdf.
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 see the Firewise brochure handed out during the May 2019 FAB meeting, please refer to How to Prepare Your Home for Wildfires.
To learn more about how to reduce the potential fire risk of wind-blown embers on to attached decks, please refer to the Fire Spread on Ember-Ignited Decks handout obtained April 2018.
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 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
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 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 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 learn more about ISO classifications, please refer to the Insurance Services Office 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.