COLORADO – The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) recently added to its arsenal of wildfire information and interactive tools available to the public with the launch of the wildland-urban interface risk index. With more than half of the state’s population living in a wildfire prone area, the county-by-county index uses housing density combined with modeled fire behavior to determine where the greatest potential impact to people and homes is likely to occur.
The index for each county is presented as an infographic to provide a simplified, accessible overview of the various levels of wildfire risk for residents living in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) in that county. The index is intended to increase awareness of wildfire risk, particularly in counties with a significant amount of its population located in the WUI. The Wildland-Urban Interface Risk Index, created by the Colorado State Forest Service, is a rating of the potential impact of a wildfire on people and their homes. It is created using housing density combined with modeled fire behavior to determine where the greatest potential impact to people and homes is likely to occur. The index is calculated consistently for each Colorado county.
In order to effectively prepare for the impact of wildfires, residents, leaders and community planners must be aware of the wildfire risk associated with living in the wildland-urban interface and recognize actions that can be taken to reduce this risk.
“Every homeowner should be aware of the wildfire risk in their community and the associated responsibility to reduce that risk, not only to protect their property, but also to improve the safety of first responders,” said CSFS Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Daniel Beveridge. “There are numerous examples from the past few seasons showing that proactive wildfire mitigation efforts are effective and now is a perfect time for people across the state to take action.”
From completing home inventories, including photographs and video, to cleaning gutters and rooftops, to trimming backyard shrubs and trees, to removing flammable materials from the perimeter of the home, there are a wide range of easy steps that homeowners can complete as coronavirus restrictions keep people at home. Reviewing insurance policy details and updating coverage are also key steps in the process, along with creating and reviewing evacuation plans and emergency toolkits.
Based on recommended fire-mitigation activities from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the CSFS advises homeowners complete the following activities at home while practicing social distancing.
Top 10 Wildfire Season Preparation Activities:
Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves 5 feet from the home as well as under decks, porches, sheds and play structures.
Remove leaves and needles from roofs and gutters.
Sweep porches and decks clear of any burnable plant material.
Move firewood piles at least 30 feet from the house, preferably uphill.
Transfer items under decks or porches to a storage area.
Cover any exposed eave or attic vents with 1/8-inch metal mesh screening.
Ensure home address signs are clearly visible from the street.
Contact the local Office of Emergency Management to register for emergency notifications and encourage your friends, family and neighbors to do the same.
Confirm at least one alternate path out of your neighborhood other than the one most commonly used and be prepared for potential evacuation requiring the alternative route.