Over the past two decades, frequent, large and destructive wildfires have claimed hundreds of thousands of acres of land, damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes and structures, caused deaths and injuries, and displaced residents for extended periods of time. With continued development throughout the state’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas, estimated to grow by 300 percent in the next 15 years, the wildfire threat is real and it is not going away.
Additionally, here are just a few steps Colorado REALTORS® are taking to prevent wildfires:
If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to sign up to receive Emergency Alert Notifications. Additionally, I hope you will consider becoming more involved, whether it’s joining CAR’s Colorado Project Wildfire Task Force or attending events. As REALTORS®, your participation is critical to keeping Coloradans and their property safe from the threat of wildfires.
Chair, Colorado Project Wildfire
Homeowners can take steps to protect their property and help alleviate the spread of wildland fires. Many Coloradans living in the foothills in ponderosa and lodgepole forests need to consider the fire-prone nature of these ecosystems.
Below are some tools to help alleviate the spread of wildland fires:
Due to Colorado’s arid climate and fire-dependent forests, many homeowners and landowners may be particularly vulnerable to wildfires. It is important to keep this threat in mind when buying or building a home.
Fire is unpredictable. If there are weaknesses in your home’s fire protection scheme, fire can gain the upper hand because of some overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor. By creating wildfire-defensible zones, homes are less vulnerable from this naturally occurring phenomenon and the chance of spreading wildfires is greatly reduced. Learn more from the links below or visit the Colorado State University by clicking here.
International Association of Fire Chief’s RSG Program
USDA Forest Service
U.S. Dept. of the Interior
U.S. Fire Administration
Colorado State University
While there are many tools available to help educate people about Wildfire prevention and the ways to reduce your risk, Colorado REALTORS® strongly believe in tapping into the numerous local programs and fire prevention resources available in communities throughout the state as the most up-to-date, geographically-focused information available to Colorado residents. Through our Project Wildfire Program, Colorado REALTORS® are working in partnership with other like-minded fire prevention organizations across our state to bring education and awareness, as well as access to resources directly to residents in their local communities.
Act Now Against Wildfire – A moderately dry year could spell an early onset for fire season in the Southwest, but homeowners can act now to harden their properties against wildfire. Even though the pandemic declared over COVID-19 has altered operations at the West Region Wildfire Council, its site assessment and cost-share programs remain available. >> READ MORE
Wildfire Partners: When Lester Karplus moved to the mountains near Nederland, Colorado he knew it was a matter of “when not if” his log home would be in the path of a wildfire. That day arrived in July 2016 when the Cold Springs Fire forced 1,900 residents to flee “100-foot” flames on a moment’s notice. While eight neighboring homes burned, Karplus’ home and seven others in the path of the fire survived — all participating in Wildfire Partners, Boulder County’s community wildfire mitigation program that provides homeowners with a comprehensive on-site property risk assessment that includes step-by-step mitigation needs, resources, a consumer-help line and follow-up inspections. The result – a coveted “Wildfire Partners Certified” yard sign and reduced wildfire risk. Many insurance companies accept Wildfire Partners assessment to meet their mitigation requirements. Karplus says homeowners buying in wildfire-prone areas need to ask themselves: “Are we willing to be caretakers of the land?” If the answer is yes, they must understand the inevitable risk of living with wildfire and the long-term commitment needed to protect their property. For more information: wildfirepartners.org.
REALFire®: After living in his Beaver Creek condominium for two decades, Michael Benge purchased a home on the mountain and knew it was a “no brainer” to evaluate necessary fire mitigation work — both in terms of creating defensible space around his new home, as well as fire-resistive materials in new construction. Benge
was thrilled to learn from his HOA that he could receive a free, on-site wildfire risk
property assessment through the REALFire® program, thanks to support from Eagle
County, the Vail Board of REALTORS®, and other local partners.
Benefits of the REALFire® program include:
• Residents engage directly with local mitigation professionals to learn about local wildfire risk.
• Residents can earn a REALFire® certificate of recognition, which they can use to enhance real estate transactions or share with local insurance providers.
• Qualifying residents may be eligible for an income tax subtraction for mitigation work performed on their property.
• Assessments identify specific actions proven to reduce wildfire risk on a property.
Benge believes homeowners throughout WUI communities would benefit by taking advantage of the voluntary opportunities to become more educated on wildfire risk, and the available mitigation resources to enhance the beauty of their property and invest in the safety and value of their home. Resources: REALFire.net
(September 2020)- Summit REALTORS® Focus on Community Advocacy to Bring Positivity During Challenging Times: Earlier this month, REALTOR® volunteers were able to assist an elderly couple in need of slash removal for the Summit County Chipping Program to prevent fire hazards on their property in Pebble Creek, north of Silverthorne. Volunteers also did retread work on a popular trail in the Soda Creek Trail System located in Keystone, Colorado with Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. >>READ MORE
(July 2020)- Colorado Politics: Neglect Is a Steep Bet Against Colorado’s Wildfires: In a recent column for Colorado Politics, Joey Bunch highlighted the decreased federal and state funding for combating wildfires in Colorado. For example, Bunch notes the Colorado General Assembly appropriated just $30 million in the budget past last month – down from $31.3 million in 2019. However, in 2017 the Division of Fire Protection and Control received $58 million and in 2018 it received $71 million. >>Read more
(June 2020)- Gov. Polis signed Executive Order D 2020 072 directing the transfer of funds from the Disaster Emergency Fund to the Wildfire Emergency Response Fund so it has sufficient funds to assist local jurisdictions.: “COVID-19 has strained our first responders as they have mobilized to save lives. As identified in the State’s 2020 Wildfire Preparedness Plan, local fire departments have reduced availability to provide response and assistance outside of their home jurisdiction, and firefighting resources from other states and federal agencies have limited capacity,” the Executive Order reads. The administration released guidance to employers and places of public accommodation to ensure equal opportunity employment and to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals, including those with COVID-19, exposure to COVID-19, and symptoms of COVID-19. Read the guidance here.
(April 30, 2020) Safer at Home Allows Time for Wildfire Season Preparation for More than Half of State’s Residents Living in WUI: May 2 marks 7th annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and kickoff to Wildfire Awareness Month. While COVID-19 has changed facets of Coloradans’ personal and professional lives and required residents everywhere to stay at home, for more than half of the state’s population who live in a wildfire prone area, the stay at home and safer at home mandates present an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.>> READ MORE
(May 4, 2020) Act Now Against Wildfire: A moderately dry year could spell an early onset for fire season in the Southwest, but homeowners can act now to harden their properties against wildfire. Even though the pandemic declared over COVID-19 has altered operations at the West Region Wildfire Council, its site assessment and cost-share programs remain available. >> READ MORE
(Feb 6, 2020) Home, Auto Insurance Premiums Could Go Up To Fund Disaster Mitigation: If you drive a car or own a home or a business, what you pay for insurance will go up under a new bill at the state Capitol. Over the last few years, state funding for disaster mitigation has gone from $10 million to $3 million. Now, some lawmakers want us to pitch in. The legislation is aimed at mitigating damage from any kind of hazard. >> READ MORE
(May 15, 2020) SUCCESSFUL WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS DAY: Sunshine and moderate temperatures welcomed Red Rock Ranch volunteers as they walked miles of roads hand delivering important wildfire preparedness information to nearly 200 homes. The May 4 National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is a nationwide activity sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association and State Farm Insurance to increase awareness of the wildfire threat and promote community preparedness. >> READ MORE
(May 1, 2019) MAY 4 MARKS 6TH ANNUAL WILDFIRE COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS DAY: With more than half of the state’s population now living in or near areas that are prone to wildland fire, public and private organizations across the state are teaming up as a part of Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 4) to educate and help Colorado residents to prepare for the growing threats created by wildfires. >>Learn more
(March 20, 2019) Wildland Fire Strategy Discussion April 1: The Colorado Association of REALTORS is proud to support the ongoing efforts and discussions taking place around Wildfire education, mitigation, safety and recovery for the residents throughout our state. As a part of our long-term commitment to work with local, state and federal agencies and organizations on these important issues, including our own Colorado Project Wildfire initiatives, we are proud to be a part of the half-day Wildland Fire Strategy discussion taking place on the morning of April 1 in Denver. Please see the details of this important gathering in the attached invite. We hope to see you on April 1. >>Learn more
(November 26, 2018) Half of Coloradans Now Live in Areas at Risk to Wildfires: The number of people living in areas at risk to the effects of wildland fire increased by nearly 50 percent from 2012 to 2017, based on new Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment data released this week by the Colorado State Forest Service. As of 2017, approximately 2.9 million people live in Colorado’s wildland-urban interface (WUI) – the area where human improvements are built close to, or within, natural terrain and flammable vegetation – compared to 2 million people just five years earlier. The new figure represents approximately half of the state’s total population. >> MORE
(October 5, 2018) REALTORS® JOIN FORCES WITH INSURANCE AND WILDFIRE SAFETY ORGANIZATIONS TO OFFER PREPAREDNESS GUIDE FOR RESIDENTS: With one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in state history burning homes and endangering communities, the Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has teamed up with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA) and other state wildfire prevention and insurance stakeholders to create a consumer-focused Colorado Property and Insurance Wildfire Preparedness Guide. >>MORE
(June 3, 2018) What to do when you’re put on pre-evacuation notice for a wildfire? As summer kicks in, more and more wildfires are popping up across Colorado. >>MORE
(March 19, 2018) Fighting Fire With Knowledge. Broker-owner Bonnie Smith uses political advocacy and education to protect Colorado homes from wildfires and strengthen her market. >>MORE
(July 13, 2017) West Region Wildfire Council offers fire risk property checks. MONTROSE – With fire danger lurking, there is a way to protect your home if you live in the Montrose-Delta area. >>MORE
(June 12, 2017) Consumer Advisory: Preparing for the 2017 wildfire season. DENVER – In April, Colorado’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control issued its 2017 wildfire outlook for the state.>> MORE
(June 8, 2017) The Importance of fire mitigation despite favorable forecast. DENVER — Colorado wildland firefighters are preparing for what is forecasted to be an average or possibly even below average wildfire season. >> MORE
(September 14, 2016) The Summit Association of REALTORS (SAR) Awards Defensible Space Grants. SAR has long been committed to residential fire mitigation efforts. Now it’s time to up its game. “Our board decided to take the next step,” said Sarah Thorsteinson, the CEO of SAR. “Instead of educating we decided to assist.” >>MORE
(July 20, 2016) US Forest Service Praises homeowner’s defensible space while the Beaver Creek Fire is now almost 35,000 acres. >>MORE
(August 6, 2015) REALTORS® launch push for wildfire mitigation education in Evergreen : Alex Gulledge uses chainsaw on a pole to remove low hanging branches while doing fire mitigation at a home in Pine, Colorado on July 28, 2015. Local fire officials along with the Colorado and mountain area associations of realtors want to educate homeowners on how to properly mitigate private property against wildfire damage. >>MORE
(August 3, 2015) Study Shows People Are Aware of Wildfire Danger : People living in areas at high risk for wildfires are aware of the danger but underestimate the peril when compared with firefighting professionals, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado researcher. >>MORE
(July 28 2015) Colorado Association of REALTORS® Launches Colorado Project Wildfire: Consumer education and awareness program designed to help reduce and prevent destruction of land, property, and lives from wildfires. >>MORE
(June 29 2015) Summit County Set to Start Summer Chipping Program: Summit County’s wood chipping program is set to go, with crews coming out to neighborhoods starting June 29. Crews will make two sweeps through each neighborhood between June and October, picking up piles of unwanted slash from the curb. >>MORE
(April 2015) Fire Crews Prepare For Average, Above Average Wildfire Season: Wildfire experts are predicting that Colorado will experience an average to above average wildfire season this year. They need aerial support to attack fires and limit damage. That requires training. About a dozen agencies gathered at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora on Friday morning to participate in aerial wildfire training. That training happens about once a year. >>MORE
(April 2015) Wildfire season starts slow for 2nd year in a row: Western wildfires have always been shape-shifting beasts, roaring to life wherever there is hot and dry weather, wind and fuel. But last year’s relatively cool and wet summer brought relief to parts of the region — including Colorado — that had been especially hard the previous few years. >>MORE
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The Colorado State Forest Atlas Information Portal provides interactive mapping applications and updated forest conditions and CSFS activities.
Colorado REALTORS® are working in partnership with other like-minded fire prevention organizations across our state to bring education and awareness, as well as access to resources directly to residents in their local communities.