Apr. 27—Colorado faces a “new normal” when it comes to wildfire. Ongoing drought and warmer temperatures elevate wildfire risk for many Coloradans, and wildfires now occur year-round in the state. To encourage more residents to prepare for wildfire, local, state and federal entities that manage wildfires in Colorado will launch a new public outreach campaign called Live Wildfire Ready.
The campaign will empower residents, especially those who live in the wildland-urban interface, to know the risk that wildfire poses to them and what they can do to mitigate that risk to their life, homes and property.
Live Wildfire Ready is directed and generously funded by the State of Colorado through Senate Bill 22-007 and developed by the Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, USDA Forest Service and Colorado State Fire Chiefs.
The campaign will launch in May 2023 during Wildfire Awareness Month, an annual observance in Colorado to encourage residents to better prepare their homes, property and communities for wildfire. With more than half of all Coloradans living in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and being susceptible to wildfire, it’s important for people to take action to reduce their wildfire risk and create more fire-adapted communities.
“Wildfires are a vital part of the natural cycle that keeps Colorado’s forests healthy. Yet persistent drought combined with a warming climate has led to more frequent and more destructive wildfires. If you’re a Coloradan living in a wildfire-prone area, being prepared must become second nature,” said Matt McCombs, state forester and director of the CSFS. “This campaign will give residents the tools they need to do their part and live wildfire ready. You have a responsibility to yourself and your family, as well as your community, to prepare your home and property to be resilient in the face of wildfire.”
Practical Actions to Reduce Wildfire Risk
The campaign will share simple, practical, relatively low-cost actions that Coloradans can take to prepare their homes and property for wildfire. These actions include the following:
—Regularly clear leaves, pine needles and other debris from your deck, roof and gutters.
—Rake and remove pine needles and leaves 5 feet from your home.
—Store firewood at least 30 feet from your home, preferably uphill, and never on or under your deck.
—Move items under your deck or porch to a storage area.
—Prune branches hanging over your roof and within 10 feet of your chimney.
—Remove flammable material within 6 vertical inches of your home’s siding.
—Mow grasses to 4 inches or less within 30 feet of your home.
—Clear brush, shrubs and other plants within 10 feet of propane tanks and gas meters.
—Screen attic, roof, eaves and foundation vents and wall-in areas below decks and stilt foundations with 1/8-inch metal mesh.
In addition to preparing one’s home, living wildfire-ready means being ready to evacuate during a wildfire:
—Ensure home address signs are clearly visible from the street.
—Contact your 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.
“No person or community is exempt when it comes to wildfire preparedness. We are committed to helping individuals understand that everyone plays a role in mitigation, what to do to reduce the risk of wildfire, and what must be done in the event of an emergency,” said CSFC President Kristy Olme.
DFPC presented the 2023 Wildfire Preparedness Plan to Governor Polis today; the plan includes information on the wildfire outlook and the State’s plan for responding to wildfires in 2023.
“Historically, wildfire seasons were a four-month event in the middle of summer; today, the average core wildfire season is 78 days longer than in the 1970s, with Colorado experiencing large fires every month of the year,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan. “But DFPC is developing a strategy to be prepared for longer and more destructive wildland fires by shifting our resources to a model that allows us to respond more effectively to Colorado’s growing wildfire seasons.”
Campaign for Colorado
Wildland fire management in Colorado is an interagency partnership among local, state and federal agencies, so Live Wildfire Ready reflects that dynamic through its development by the CSFS, DFPC, USFS and CSFC. By working together on efforts, including this campaign, the goals of these entities are resilient, fire-adapted landscapes and communities that best provide for firefighter and public safety and protection of natural resources.
For more about the campaign, visit LiveWildfireReady.org, or search for #LiveWildfireReady on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during Wildfire Awareness Month in May and throughout the summer.
The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) provides professional forestry assistance, wildfire mitigation expertise, and outreach and education to help landowners and communities achieve their forest management goals. The CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University and provides staffing for the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. For more information, visit csfs.colostate.edu.
The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) aims to serve and safeguard the people and protect the property, resources, environment, and quality of life in Colorado. DFPC accomplishes this mission through fire prevention and code enforcement; wildfire preparedness, response, suppression, coordination, and management; training and certification; public information and education. For more information, visit www.colorado.gov/dfpc.
The Forest Service is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that cares for 193 million acres of working lands that provide an array of public benefits. The Rocky Mountain Region encompasses over 22 million acres of national forests and grasslands across Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
The Colorado State Fire Chiefs (CSFC) represent fire service leaders from across the state of Colorado. It’s a dynamic organization, characterized by integrity, innovation, community focus, and proactive leadership. CSFC strives to mentor aspiring leaders and advance the safety of all Colorado communities by supporting the professional development of the fire and emergency services industry through training and continuing education. CSFC partners with the fire service and supplier partners across the state of Colorado in an effort to protect all of Colorado’s life and property from fire and other disasters. For more information, visit cofirechiefs.org.
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