Fraser Valley’s Wildfire Protection Plan complete
April 21, 2008
The first-ever Fraser Valley Wildfire Protection Plan has been completed and is available to community members.
“This is the first time we’ve had a book like this,” said Adam Gosey, fire technician at East Grand Fire Protection District No. 4. “If the pine beetle hadn’t come along, maybe this would not have been done.”
The beetle has made more people aware of wildfire prevention he said.
“Now that the trees are dead, it can lead to more intense fires,” he said. “If it’s 80 degrees by 9 a.m. and the temperature’s rising, then you have a huge window where fuel is preheating. So it’s getting closer and closer to that point where it can combust.
“If you have a pile of slash sitting that can actually start a fire because … the breakdown and the core of the mound is actually going to produce heat.”
Anchor Point Group Fire Management based in Boulder put the book together. It is the leading wildfire management consulting firm specializing in services related to wildland fire and ecosystem management.
The Upper Fraser Valley Community Wildfire Protection Plan was completed last month, said Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth.
It covers Fraser, Tabernash and Winter Park, including Berthoud Pass, the top of Red Dirt Hill and Fraser Canyon, and all the other subdivisions of the valley, he said.
“It’s a pretty impressive document, actually, from a fire standpoint,” Gosey said.
The document evaluates the types of fuels in the area, as well as the district’s ground fuels, tree conditions, infrastructure, water supplies and evacuation routes.
“Based off of that, they’ve come up with a risk analysis to the types of homes based on their construction,” Gosey said. “From a fire geek standpoint, it’s pretty impressive.”
Weather conditions, temperature, altitude, steep slopes, whether there is defensible space and topography are among the factors that determine fire risk and if a structure can be saved, he said.
The book tells residents about the fuel types near them, what the slopes are like, gives them a hazard rating, and general recommendations.
Gosey said that when wildfires blow through and sweep up a hill, a house will be destroyed if it’s not defended properly. Undergrowth and standing dead trees contribute to this.
“No matter how well built that house is ” it’s going to go,” he said. “But even a crappy little shack that has all the defensible space … can be saved,” Gosey said. “We don’t play favorites. We’ll save a structure regardless.”
In case of a fire, the station could use reverse 911.
“A tool to have a computer call anyone that we want,” Gosey said. “It would dial out to everyone in that area and notify them that way.”
The message would include an escape route and evacuation timeline. It also would tell them if the area is safe.
“It is constrained by the fact that it does rely on existing phone numbers tied to an address,” he said. “If you had your number listed and you’re in Denver, it’s probably not going to call you. It’s meant to take care of the people who are in the danger now.
“If need be we can directly notify people with PA systems, or just walking door-to-door and telling people they need to get out now,” he said. “If it requires quick action, we’re not going to rely on reverse 911 because it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
The Wildfire Protection Plan is available to everyone. There are copies of the document at the Fraser Library, the fire district and on Winter Park’s Web site, http://www.winterparkgov.com/ .