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Are you FireWise?
Wildfires are a major concern in the mountain areas of Larimer County. A recent study conducted by the Colorado State Forest service ranked Larimer County as the most hazardous county in Colorado for wildfire hazards. As more forested lands are developed and recreation uses increase, the potential for loss of life and property caused by wildfire is an ever increasing problem.
Protecting your home and property from wildfire is YOUR responsibility. Don't assume firefighters can save your home or property. As much as they may want to, resources are limited and conditions may make it impossible to safely reach and protect your home.
Advance planning and knowing how to protect structures in these areas can lessen the impacts of a wildfire. When designing or building your home, consider choosing a FireWise location, developing a defensible space around your structure, and selecting fire resistive building materials.
Choose the location of your home carefully. The chance that your home could survive a wildfire could depend on the decisions that you make.
- Become familiar with your local fire department and see what fire protection is available in your area.
- Evaluate the building site. Choose a site away from heavily vegetated area (trees and shrubs). Build on the most level portion of the land.
- Avoid natural chimneys or draws, these act as natural pathways during a fire and could draw heat and flames to your home.
- Set your structure a minimum of 30 feet back from ridge or cliff ; increase the distance to 75-100 feet if home will be higher than one story.
- Provide easy access for emergency vehicles. A steep, narrow or winding driveway can impede access of larger emergency vehicles.
- Try to place driveway on the down hill side of your home or on the side that faces the wind. This makes a good fire break.
- A locked gate could stop firefighters from reaching your home. If you must have a locked gate, leave a spare key with your local fire agency.
Make Your Home Easy to Find
- Clearly mark your location so firefighters can find you.
- Addresses should be visible from both directions.
- Keep brush and trees cut back so that the address always stands out.
Create and maintain a FireWise environment
around your home.
Create a defensible space around your home and the major structures on your property by reducing the vegetation surrounding the structures. This does not mean that your landscape has to be barren. Defensible space is an area where the vegetation is modified to slow the rate of spread and intensity of an advancing wildfire. This space also provides room for the firefighters to work and protect the forest should a structure fire occur.
- A structures number one danger in wildfires is a combustible roof. Roofs usually have the largest surface areas that are exposed to airborne sparks. Use class A or B roofing materials. Such as asphalt shingles, slate or clay tile, or metal.
Siding / walls
- Use construction materials that are fire-resistant or non-combustible whenever possible.
- Use a minimum of a Class III flame spread siding material. Stone, brick and stucco are best.
- Shakes and shingles are required to be sawn and have a Class B fire rating when used as siding material .
- Walls should be constructed of fire resistive materials from the ground to the roof overhang.
- The foundation of a building is often the first area to come in contact with a spreading wildfire. Construct a closed foundation with concrete block, cement wall, or use other fire resistive materials.
- Windows are often overlooked as fire hazards, but can be a serious risk. Radiant heat can pass thorough them and set fire to curtains and furniture.
- Minimize the size and number of windows on the side of the house that would most likely be exposed to a wildland fire-side facing downhill.
- Consider both size and materials for windows, double pane glass and tempered glass are more effective than single pane glass by reducing the amount of radiant heat; plastic sky lights can melt.
Other Areas / Ideas
- To prevent sparks from entering your home through vents; cover attic, soffit and floor vents with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 of an inch, make sure eave and soffit vents are closer to the roof line than the wall. Box in eaves, but provide adequate ventilation to prevent condensation.
- Prevent combustible materials and debris from accumulating beneath patio deck or elevated porches: screen under or box in areas below ground line with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 of an inch.
- Design decks so that they are not located at the top of a hill where they will be in direct line of a fire moving up slope.
- Place fire resistive landscaping-such as rocks, under decks. Keep areas under decks vegetation free by using a fabric weed barrier.
- Landscape with fire resistive plants.
- Incorporate walkways and retaining walls as man-made fuel breaks.
- Clean gutters, eaves and roofs regularly.
- Stack firewood uphill from or on the contour of your home.