In November 2002, Larimer County's Wildfire Safety Program received a $10,000 grant from the Colorado State Forest Service to assist in the development of a County Fire Plan. The Wildfire safety Program is using the grant money to compile a county-wide subdivision wildfire hazard assessment.
This subdivision assessment will be incorporated into the County Fire Plan as serve as a planning tool for future projects and targeted education and awareness programs. Informing citizens, working with fire departments and assisting homeowners and landowners with implementation of wildfire mitigation techniques are intended to improve pre suppression effort throughout Larimer County.
In 1994 the Colorado State Forest Service conducted assessments for some subdivisions but a complete comprehensive list was never created. Since 1994, Larimer County has experience a substantial development in the wildland urban interface and currently there are over 220 subdivisions and 35 acre developments located within the Wildfire Hazard Area.
Larimer County Wildfire Safety staff conducted assessments on a number of subdivisions and development areas. Assessments were conducted by either an on site inspections or utilizing an aerial photo. The assessments evaluated the subdivision as a whole or on a landscape scale and did not assess individual lots or structures.
The assessment form created in 1994 by the Colorado State Forest was utilized during the process. This form identifies critical items that may contribute to wildfire hazard and assigns them a numerical value; these values are added together to determine a Hazard Rating (low, moderate, high, severe, and extreme). Items evaluated included:
The assessments are subjective, and site specific but were based on firefighter knowledge, anticipated fire behavior and emergency response. A copy of the assessment form used is attached as an appendix.
Listed below are comments and assumptions that the staff conducting the assessments utilized.
Again, this process is based off firefighter knowledge and decisions are made by looking at subdivisions as a whole, not by concentrating on individual structures.
The Subdivision Assessment process compared all subdivisions and 35 acre developments to one another using the same categories or factors. This process identified the most critical developments in Larimer County and will assist in planning for future projects. Education and awareness programs will target these developments and it is anticipated that citizen interest will increase and provide opportunities for further fire planning and possible fuel reduction projects.