From the Red, White & Blue Fire District
Protect Your Property
Homeowners can take a number of steps to protect their property and help alleviate the spread of wildland fires. Preventative measures include clearing excess fuel, creating defensible space around your home and using FireWise practices. Homeowners should be sensitive to the fact that fire is a natural part of our ecosystem.
Wildfire Defensible Zone
Due to Colorado’s arid climate and fire-dependent forests, many homeowners and landowners may be particularly vulnerable to wildfires. Fire is unpredictable and if there are weaknesses in your home’s fire protection plan, fire can gain the upper hand due to some overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor. By creating a wildfire defensible zone, homes are less vulnerable from this naturally-occurring phenomenon and the chance of spreading wildfires is greatly reduced.
Ability to Survive Wildfires
2 factors have emerged as the primary determinants of a home’s ability to survive wildfires: choosing fire-resistant roofing material and creating a wildfire defensible zone. It is important to choose a fire-resistant roofing material that is rated Class C or higher when building a house in, or near, forests or grasslands. Avoid flammable materials such as wood or shake shingles.
Defensible space is an area around a structure where fuels and vegetation are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire toward the structure. It also reduces the chance of a structure fire moving from the building to the surrounding forest. Defensible space also provides room for firefighters to do their jobs. Your house is more likely to withstand a wildfire if grasses, brush, trees and other common forest fuels are managed to reduce a fire’s intensity.
Tips to Protect Your Home From Wildfire
- Actively manage your roof. Clean roof and gutters of pine needles and leaves at least twice a year to eliminate an ignition source for potential fires. This eliminates an ignition source for firebrands, especially during hot, dry weather.
- Beyond the initial 15 feet, thin trees to achieve 10-12 foot crown spacing. Occasionally, clumps of 2 or 3 trees are acceptable for a more natural appearance, if additional space surrounds them.
- Create defensible space on flat ground a minimum of 75 feet around a home. Increase this diameter if the structure is located on a slope.
- Dispose of all slash and debris left from thinning by either chipping, hauling away or piling and burning. Contact your local fire department or local Colorado State Forest Service forester for burning restrictions and/or assistance.
- Mow grasses and weeds to a height of 6 inches or less for a distance of 30 feet from all structures.
- Place liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) containers at least 30 feet from structures. Clear anything flammable, including vegetation, from within 10 feet of all tanks.
- Prune tree branches within the defensible space up to a height of 10 feet above ground.
- Remove shrubs and small trees or other potential ladder fuels from beneath large trees. Left in place, these fuels can carry a ground fire into tree crowns.
- Remove unhealthy vegetation. Trees and shrubs that are stressed, diseased, dead or dying should be removed so that they do not become a fuel source for potential fires.
- Stack firewood away from your house. Locate firewood at least 15 feet uphill from your home. Do not stack firewood under the deck.
- Thin out continuous tree and brush (shrub) cover around structures. Remove flammable vegetation from within the initial 15 feet around structures.
- Trim any branches extending over roofs, and remove branches within 15 feet of chimneys.