Wildland Fire Season Is Upon Us! Mitigating Strategies

Wildland fire season is here again. Sure, we’ve had lots of rain recently, but if weather patterns hold true, in the next few weeks we’re going to dry up and the dangers begin.

This blog is written for my clients who live among the trees! So if you live in the city or suburbs, you may want to skip this blog. However, if you ever plan on moving to the foothills, this might be a good introduction for you.

Alter the Risk
Four simple keys to remember in order to protect your home from wildfires:

  1. Alter the Hazard – eliminate fire hazards. Remove fuel or ignition sources.
  2. Avert the Hazard – Redirect hazards away from vulnerable areas.
  3. Adapt to Hazards – Reduce vulnerability by installing a roof that is fire resistant.
  4. Avoid the Hazard – Create open space or buffer zones to eliminate fire dangers.

Defensible Space
Clearing and reducing vegetation and debris around your home creates defensible space. A home is more likely to withstand a wildfire assault if grasses, brush, trees and other forest fuels are removed. Fire departments suggest creating “zones” around your home.

Zone 1 – 15 foot zone around home

  • Plant nothing with 3-5 feet of the home
  • Do not plant beneath windows or next to foundation vents
  • Do not store firewood in this area (Duh!)
  • Remove all trees and shrubs form this zone
  • Remove all “ladder fuels – small shrubs, trees, limbs, around tree trunks

Zone 2 – 75 to 125 foot zone depending on topography

  • Trim trees and shrubs leaving 10 feet between crowns
  • Prune trees to a height of minimum 10 feet
  • Remove dead stems from trees
  • During growing season mow grass
  • Stack at least 30 feet from home
  • Keep propane tanks at least 30 feet from home

Zone 3 – Extend to edge of your property

  • Manage forest in traditional manner
  • Thin forest per USFS/CSFS guidelines
  • Maintain tree health

Here’s a handy checklist created by Jefferson County called the “Fire-Wise Annual Checklist”

For more information the following resources can be helpful:
1. Local Fire Departments

2. Colorado State Forest Service
http://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/

3. United States Forest Service
http://www.fs.fed.us/managing-land/private-land

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