The three R’s of fire mitigation | PostIndependent.com

The three R’s of fire mitigation

Coal Seam. Missionary Ridge. Hayman.

That was then. This is now.

According to reports from local and regional fire departments, much of Colorado’s Western Slope and the Roaring Fork Valley is considered a high hazard fire environment. The summer of 2002 proved that, not only in our backyard, but across the state.

Last year, local agencies distributed 44,000 copies of an eight-page guide for residents entitled, “Living with Wildland Fire – A Guide for Homeowners.” This May, a similar informational section is scheduled to be published in the Post Independent and some of our sister papers.

It is a must read.

Fire officials have told us about defensible space. Defensible space is proper vegetation management around the home. In addition to this potentially home-saving tip, the use of fire-resistant building materials and thoughtful subdivision design are at the top of the list in home protection.

Experts cite the three R’s of defensible space.

The first is removal, which is the elimination of selected plants, particularly shrubs and trees, including dead trees.

The second is reduction. Officials suggest reducing low tree branches and mowing dried grass.

The third is replacement, which is substituting potentially hazardous vegetation with less flammable plants.

Other considerations in making your home more defensible include taking a close look at the roof, original construction, landscaping, yard, emergency water supply and access.

Families should have a designated emergency meeting place outside of their home, as well. Just in case.

If you have already taken preventative action to protect your home, you deserve the good neighbor award. One subdivision with 33 homes near Durango was spared last summer, thanks to its proactive mitigation efforts.

If you have not acted on the Three R’s, heed the words of the experts. “Living with Wildfire” explains it is not a question of “if” but “when.”

– Valerie Smith, publisher


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