Glenwood Springs begins home assessments for wildfire danger |

Glenwood Springs begins home assessments for wildfire danger

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” People peeking into backyards and snapping photos probably aren’t casing joints to rob. They’re trying to protect homes from wildfires.

The Glenwood Springs Fire Department is launching a $32,000 two-week project today to evaluate individual homes in areas at a high risk to wildfire. It’s meant to educate homeowners about their homes’ ability to survive wildfires and give specific suggestions for improvement. The data can also be used by firefighting agencies to better plan responses to fires. In some cases that means firefighters deciding which homes have the best chance of survival.

“They don’t have to take time to go around and look at each home and then kind of draw straws,” Fire Marshal Ron Biggers said.

Boulder-based Anchor Point Fire Management is conducting the home surveys. The company says it’s the nation’s leading wildfire management consulting organization.

Anchor Point chief executive officer Chris White said teams of two people will survey more than 1,000 homes in and around Glenwood Springs over the next two weeks. They’ll observe the exterior of the homes, take pictures and answer a series of questions on handheld devices like Palm Pilots to rate homes’ abilities to survive wildfires. Anchor Point will begin with the areas at the highest risk to wildfire, such as the Highlands Estates and Canyon Creek Estates subdivisions. The process should take less than 20 minutes per home.

White said this project is part of an “unprecedented effort” by the GSFD. Anchor Point also worked on Glenwood’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) completed in 2006. The plan evaluates Glenwood’s areas of highest risk to wildfire and makes recommendations to reduce that threat.

The plan rated the Highlands Estates subdivision in northwestern Glenwood Springs as an “extreme” hazard ” the highest risk. The GSFD has said the neighborhood has only one road leading in or out, and there’s a potentially dangerous buildup of fuels below the hill on which the neighborhood sits.

The GSFD recently worked with the homeowners association there to obtain a $13,000 matching grant. Funds were used to thin out vegetation from either side of the road leading into the neighborhood in April. The work could help keep the road open in case of a fire. Biggers said the CWPP increases the chances of obtaining grants like that one.

He said 90 percent of this $32,000 individual home assessment project was funded by a Bureau of Land Management grant. And the remaining 10 percent is time the city paid him to work on getting the grant money over the course of about a year.

White said he’s impressed by Biggers’ grant-getting abilities and efforts to protect homes against wildfires.

He said the GSFD has spearheaded the CWPP, a pre-attack plan, guidelines for new building construction, community interaction efforts and now the individual home assessments.

“No one’s got that full spectrum, that I’m aware of, on the Western Slope,” White said. “It’s safe to say that this is exceptional across the United States to have this level of comprehensive wildfire management. (Biggers) is the master when it comes to finding money at little to no expense to the taxpayers.”

A public meeting will be announced to discuss general results of the individual home evaluations. Anyone interested in getting the results about their specific home can contact Biggers at 384-6433.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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