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Fire Mitigation

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Fire Mitigation Services

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Fire Mitigation for Insurance Compliance, Jefferson County Requirements and Forest Health

Mountain area residents and insurance companies are becoming increasingly aware of the threat of a devastating forest fire. Fire mitigation reduces the risk by creating a defensible space around your home or structure.

The goal of fire mitigation is not to clear cut, but rather to work with the natural aesthetics of the property, providing you with a beautiful and healthier forest after the work is completed. We utilize selective thinning practices when completing a fire mitigation project – we first select the dead, diseased, downed and dying trees for removal. It is only then that we begin selecting healthier trees to be removed to promote proper crown spacing. Fire mitigation not only mitigates risk against a wildfire but promotes a healthier forest better able to resist potential diseases. The heaviest of thinning occurs from 0-30’ from the structure with a tiered approach from 30-100’+.

What Is Fire Mitigation?

Fire mitigation is the process of implementing on-the ground treatments designed to minimize the destructive effects of a wildfire. Fire mitigation measures can be targeted at the forested area around a home/structure or they can focus on the construction itself and the strategies that can be used to improve the chances of a structure surviving a wildfire. Any homeowner living in a forested area or the WUI should attempt to mitigate the hazards present on their property.

 

Fire Mitigation for Insurance Compliance

Over the years, wildfires have become an increasing threat to homeowners and insurance companies providing coverage across the Rocky Mountain region. Whether you are just moving to the area or have lived here for years, it is important to stay up-to-date on any changes with your homeowners insurance policy and act quickly if you receive either a notification to complete fire mitigation or a notice of cancellation.

If you receive correspondence from your insurance company, contact a member of our team to discuss the process and your fire mitigation options. We work closely with insurance companies to assure your property is mitigated based on the guidelines set forth by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and provide any necessary documentation to the underwriter. We have helped homeowners navigate the process with a variety of insurance companies including major carriers such as Allstate, State Farm and American Family.

 

Fire Mitigation for Jefferson County

If you are looking to build a new home/structure, make an addition to your existing structure, replace your deck or turn the property into a short term rental in Jefferson County (on properties above 6,400 feet in elevation), you will need to obtain a Defensible Space permit. The inspections of the fire mitigation work must be completed by a County Approved Forester. To learn more about this Splintered Forest service, click here.

WHAT IS A DEFENSIBLE SPACE?

Defensible space is the area around a structure that has been modified to reduce the fire hazard. Creating this space gives your home a fighting chance against a wildfire and provides increased safety for firefighters working to protect it. Although creating a proper defensible space does not guarantee your home will survive a forest fire, it does significantly improve the odds.

There are many factors to take into account when creating an effective defensible space:

• The size/shape of the structure, construction materials used, slope of the ground, surrounding topography and the type of vegetation on your property are all factors to consider when creating a defensible space.

• Developing management zones around each building on the property including garages and barns

Image Source: Colorado State Edu 

DEFENSIBLE SPACE – ZONE 1

Zone 1 is the area closest to the home or any other structure. This zone is 0-5 feet from the home/other structures and requires the most attention to reduce hazards. The goal is to avoid flames coming in direct contact with your structure.

In Zone 1, you will want to use nonflammable materials (rock, gravel, concrete pavers, etc) and remove all flammable vegetation (slash, mulch, shrubs, etc). Do not store firewood inside this zone, provide additional clearance from any branches close to the structure, maintain keeping debris out of the roof/deck/gutters and dispose of any forestry debris around your foundation. It is also important that you do not use any space under your deck as storage.

DEFENSIBLE SPACE – ZONE 2

Zone 2 is designated as 5-30 feet from the home and designed to weaken the intensity of an approaching wildfire by removing flammable fuels in this area. Within this zone, it is important to:

  • Keep grasses mowed to 4 inches tall or less
  • Avoid any build up of materials such as logs, slash or mulch
  • Remove dead, dying, downed and diseased trees or any trees showing signs of stress
  • Create at least 10 feet of space between crowns by removing trees (small groups of trees may be left in some areas within this zone)
  • Under the remaining trees, remove the vertical ladder fuels under the drip lines of the trees (bushes/debris etc.)
  • Prune tree branches to a height of 10 feet from the ground (or ⅓ of the total tree height, whichever is less)
  • Junipers/cedars should be removed whenever possible as they are highly flammable

DEFENSIBLE SPACE – ZONE 3

Zone 3 is typically 30-100 feet and the area furthest from the home (this zone may be larger if your structure is on a steep slope). The goal of this zone is to keep a wildfire on the ground or if a fire is already in the crowns of the trees to force it to the ground where its intensity will be less.

This zone also provides an opportunity for you to improve the overall health of the forest through proper management. It is always a good idea for homeowners to work with neighbors to complete a defensible space, especially if Zone 3 stretches beyond your property line.

CREATING AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE

There are many things to address when creating and maintaining an effective defensible space around your home or structure:

  • The size/shape of the structure, materials used for construction, slope of the ground, surrounding topography and the type of vegetation on your property are all factors to consider when creating a defensible space.
  • Maintaining grasses/weeds to a height of 4 inches or less.
  • Removing any branches that overhang the roof and/or chimney.
  • Remove and maintain pine needles and any other potentially flammable debris from around the foundation of both your home and deck (5-foot radius).
  • Dispose of all slash and assure any slash that has accumulated is at least 100 feet or more from the structure.

THE SPLINTERED FOREST APPROACH TO FIRE MITIGATION

Fire mitigation can sometimes be mistaken for the process of clear cutting a property and removing all the trees when in reality that isn’t the case at all. Instead, it is carefully selecting which trees to slate for removal, trimming or ladder fuel reduction and building an individual defensible space plan unique to your property. Fire mitigation efforts should be assessed and maintained every 3-5 years.

At Splintered Forest, our Jefferson County Approved Forester or ISA Certified Arborists take the time to understand your wishes for the aesthetics of your property and couple that with the guidelines set forth by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) to create a personalized fire mitigation plan.

We start by scheduling a time for you to meet with either our County Forester or an Arborist to assess your project needs and give them time to provide their professional recommendations about your property. After discussing your goals and concerns, we will compose a plan for your fire mitigation project and provide you with a written estimate detailing the proposed work and anticipated costs.

DEFINITIONS OF COMMON FIRE MITIGATION TERMS

Did you know that more than 3 million Coloradans live in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). 

Splintered Forest Kathleen Noonan

Kathleen Noonan

Five Stars

Splintered Forest was willing to work with our needs and were patient during the estimating process... The crews arrived on time every day, worked hard, and did a good job cleaning up the work areas at the end of each day.

Splintered Forest Justin Matheny

Justin Matheny

Five Stars

The crew was incredibly efficient, skilled and professional. Would highly recommend and use them again in the future.

Splintered Forest Frazer Lockhart

Frazer Lockhart

Five Stars

This is a great company! ... They were quick to provide a clearly stated bid, then followed up with scheduling. When an opening occurred ahead of our scheduled date, they reached out to complete our job earlier. On-site they were professional and meticulous, working with high energy and real skill. It was a real pleasure to work with Splintered Forest. They are our new "go to" for any tree work.

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