Learn About Wildfire Mitigation in Jefferson County
On Tuesday, May 21, Fire Chiefs from Elk Creek Fire Department, Evergreen Fire Rescue and Inter-Canyon Fire Protection District along with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Team and Jeffco Open Space, CO staff, provided presentations on Wildfire Mitigation to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners as part of a work session. Open Space provided information specifically about what is being done to mitigate wildfire danger at Jeffco Open Space Parks. Work Sessions conducted by the Board of County Commissioners are informal discussions to explore an issue facing the county in more depth.
In addition to the presentations, Jefferson County’s Facilities Division provided information about the county’s Slash Program. You can learn more about the Slash Program at www.jeffco.us/slash
Visit the Work Sessions page on our website for more details: www.jeffco.us/3856/Work-Sessions
Researchers at IBHS have been working for years to determine ways to combat the devastation caused by these fires. A recent demonstration looked into what causes homes to ignite during a wildfire. Through research and real-life demonstrations, the organization found that roughly 90% of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed in a wildfire were first ignited by embers or other fires set by embers, and not the actual wildfire front.
During a wildfire, these embers, or fire brands, can fly for miles and start a new fire when they land, says Daniel Gorham, research engineer at IBHS. If they get inside a home through vents or an open window or land on dead landscaping, dry wood, or common home building materials, houses become extremely at risk.
“These wildfires are becoming far more severe,” says Wright. “Yet there are practical steps that can be taken by individual property owners, community planners, and state and federal leaders to reduce our collective risk from wildfire and make our neighborhoods safer and more resilient.”
The arc of destruction the Camp Fire carved through Paradise was seemingly random: Why were some houses saved and others incinerated? As millions of Californians brace for another wildfire season, a McClatchy analysis of fire and property records shows the answer might be found in something as simple as the roofs over their heads — and the year their house was built.
A landmark 2008 building code designed for California’s fire-prone regions — requiring fire-resistant roofs, siding and other safeguards — appears to have protected the Carrells’ home and dozens of others like it from the Camp Fire. That year marks a pivotal moment in the state’s deadly and expensive history of destructive natural disasters.
All told, about 51 percent of the 350 single-family homes built after 2008 in the path of the Camp Fire were undamaged, according to McClatchy’s analysis of Cal Fire data and Butte County property records. By contrast, only 18 percent of the 12,100 homes built prior to 2008 escaped damage.
This study find negligible cost differences between a typical home and a home constructed using wildfire-resistant materials and design features. Decades of research and post-fire assessments have provided clear evidence that building materials and design, coupled with landscaping on the property, are the most important factors influencing home survivability during a wildfire.
- Wildfire disasters will be more common if unmitigated home development continues in the wildland-urban interface.
- A new home built to wildfire-resistant codes can be constructed for roughly the same cost as a typical home.
- Costs vary for retrofitting an existing home to be wildfire-resistant, with some components such as the roof and walls having significant expense. Some of these costs can be divided and prioritized into smaller projects.
- Technology and standards exist today that will make communities safer. Cities, counties, and other jurisdictions can implement wildfire-resistant building codes to reduce their vulnerability to wildfire.
Today, one-third of all U.S. homes are in the wildland-urban interface, the area where flammable vegetation and homes meet or intermingle. And with more than 35,000 structures lost to wildfire in the last decade, more communities should consider adopting building codes that require new home construction to meet wildfire-resistant standards.
While codes and standards have been developed for building in wildfire-prone lands, the perceived cost of implementing such regulations is a commonly cited barrier to consideration and adoption by some communities. However, little research has previously examined how much it would actually cost the homeowner or builder to comply with such regulations.
For this research, a full report, an executive summary, and appendix (Excel) are available. The work was completed in partnership with The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and was prepared at the request of Park County, Montana, as part of the Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) program. CPAW is a program of Headwaters Economics and is funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the LOR Foundation, and other private foundations.
Homes in wildfire-prone areas around the U.S. could be built to better withstand blazes without increasing the cost of construction, according to a new report.
The research released Tuesday was sponsored in part by the insurance industry and marks the first attempt to quantify the expenses associated with building residences that meet stringent flame-resistant criteria. Few states have adopted such codes, often citing housing costs, but the new findings suggest fire-plagued communities could curb damage and save lives with minimal effect on home buyers.
Wildfire Risk Reduction Task Force
The Task Force will meet monthly, beginning November, 2019 and will access the status of their work in November, 2020 to determine what, if any, tasks remain and the potential scope of work in year two (November 2020-21). Meetings will typically be held the third Thursday from 9:00am - 10:30am. Meeting schedule, agendas and minutes can be found here.
Membership will consist of almost 30 individuals representing County leadership and staff; mountain area fire chiefs, fire fighters, liaisons; and, County business leaders and mountain area community leaders.
Applications are now open, if you are interested on serving on the Task Force as a business leader or mountain area community leader, please complete an application no later than October 4, 2019. The Board will review and appoint three individuals for each area to the Task Force mid- to late October.