BOULDER – This winter has been particularly dry making fire mitigation an even more important issue than in an average snowfall year. Due to Colorado’s arid climate and many forests, homeowners and landowners may be particularly vulnerable to wildfires even in normal or heavy snowfall years. It is important to keep this threat in mind when buying or building a home. Homes in many areas of Colorado are threatened, damaged or destroyed each year by wild fires. Anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home in forested or otherwise fire-prone areas should consider the hazard presented to the property by a wildfire and should attempt to mitigate its effects. By doing wildfire mitigation work, homeowners can substantially increase their safety and reduce the risk to life and property.
In Boulder County, land use codes require individuals who are constructing a new home in forested areas, or remodeling some existing homes, create and implement a Wildfire Mitigation Plan, which includes the creation and maintenance of effective defensible space. Other homeowners are encouraged, but not required, to create and maintain effective defensible space. Defensible space is an area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat and allow firefighters to safely defend the house. Use materials such as asphalt shingles, slate or clay tile, or metal roof coverings. Ensure roof-covering assemblies do not contain openings that allow firebrand entry. Install fire-resistive or noncombustible construction materials on siding and walls. Eaves should extend beyond exterior walls with fire-resistive materials. Cover all vent openings to internal structure areas (attic, eave/soffit, foundation, etc.) with a corrosion-resistant, non-combustible wire mesh or screen that prevents firebrands from entering structures.
Concrete block, cement walls, or other fire-resistive materials should be used for foundation walls. Construct overhanging projections (decks, balconies, unenclosed roofs, etc.) of heavy timber, non-combustible or ignition resistant material. Minimize the size and number of windows on the downhill side of the house or the side most likely to be exposed to wildfire. Both the size and the type of materials used are crucial in windows and sliding-glass doors. Multi-paned glass or tempered glass is recommended.
Wildfire does not recognize property lines. If you effectively mitigate your property, you may help save your neighbor’s home and vice versa. Wildfires can impact entire communities. Linked defensible spaces are a key community protection strategy. Having a defensible space around your home may also lower your insurance premiums. The following links have more helpful information regarding fire mitigation: bouldercountycwpp.org; csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/community-wildfire-protection-plans.