Colorado enjoys a diverse landscape of mountains, forests, and valleys. Summers are dry and winters are mild—ideal conditions for year-round activities. However, the same qualities that make Colorado a great place to live can also spur dangerous wildfires.
According to the Colorado State Forest Service, homes and businesses nestled in the foothills, grasslands, and mountains are particularly vulnerable.
Below, the fire damage experts at Professional Restoration share actionable steps property owners can take to mitigate fire ignition and spread in fire-prone ecosystems throughout Colorado.
Defensible Space & Access
Your first defense against wildfire is to create a defensible space around your property.
A defensible space is designed to slow the rate and intensity of an approaching wildfire. This area typically extends 75 feet around the home or business—more if the structure is built on a slope.
Here’s how you can create a defensible space around your home or business:
- Thin out continuous tree and brush cover. All flammable vegetation within 15 feet of the property should be removed
- Beyond 15 feet, trees should be thinned with 10- to 12-foot crown spacing
- Grass and weeds should be no more than six inches tall within 30 feet of the structure
- All tree branches should be trimmed 10 feet off the ground
- Trim branches that extend over the roof
- Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from the structure
- Roof gutters should be free of pine needles and debris
All clippings and debris should be hauled away after tree branches and brush are cleared away.
Property access is another important consideration when preparing for potential fire hazards. Particularly in rural areas, access to property can be challenging for emergency vehicles.
Here are a few easy steps to improve property access:
- Street signs should be free of debris and plant cover—they should be easy to read from at least 150 feet away
- Street and address signs should be made of fire-resistant materials
- Letters and numbers should be at least 4 inches tall and contrast with the background color
- Address number should be visible from the entrance of the driveway
- Private and public streets should be constructed to provide two traffic lanes, each a minimum of ten feet wide—enough room for opposite-flowing traffic to pass safely.
A few minutes delay due to accessibility issues can mean all the difference in saving a property.
Create a defensible space around your property, and check for access issues once a year to mitigate fire dangers.
Structural flammability refers to the material makeup of the structure(s) on the property. Ignition risk is something that, in a perfect world, is addressed during construction. However, there are steps home and business owners can take to mitigate flammability.
For example, roofing materials such as asphalt, metal, tile, clay, concrete, and slate are fire-resistant options and less flammable than wood or shake shingles.
Decks made of wood are common ignition points. Today, there are alternative materials available that won’t spread fire as rapidly. Fire resistant insulation, windows, and finishes are also available.
Maintaining a defensible space around the structure is the best way to mitigate structural flammability.
It’s important that an emergency water source is available to firefighters.
Some jurisdictions require new construction projects to join municipal water systems, which generally have large storage facilities that will meet the needs of firefighters. However, rural areas and older developments may not have adequate water reserves.
Firefighters work hard to protect your property, but they can only do so much without a constant water source. If you live in a heavily-forested area, ensure a water supply is readily available. This can be anything from a lake or pond to a swimming pool or hot tub.
If you do not have a nearby water source, consider installing a well-marked dry hydrant or cistern.
Fire Damage Cleanup & Restoration
Fire is unpredictable, and even with preparedness, it can devastate a home or business within a few minutes.
If you find yourself dealing with the aftermath of a fire, you will likely need professional fire damage cleanup and restoration.
Professional Restoration has been helping home and commercial property owners living in and around the Denver Metro area for more than 25 years. We’re here for our clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Moreover, our trained technicians are ready to tackle everything from interior fire damage to roofing repair—we can even restore your personal belongings to like-new condition.