The Rabbit Mountain Fire on February 20 marked an early start to the 2017 fire season. Four buildings and one hundred fifty-one acres were burned northeast of Lyons prompting the evacuation of seventy-five homes. The Cold Springs fire near Nederland burned over five hundred acres in July of 2016.
In this case, suppression efforts in concert with wildfire mitigation implemented by homeowners participating in the Boulder County Wildfire Partners
program proved effective in reducing structure loss. All eight Wildfire Partners homes within the burn perimeter survived intact as well as all thirteen homes that were constructed in compliance with the county’s wildfire mitigation building code requirements.
Wildfire mitigation is based on proven science that is available to mountain homeowners through the Wildfire Partners Program (www.WildfirePartners.org). Since 2014, over eleven hundred exemplary residents around the county and more than thirty-five proactive organizations have signed up for the program which provides technical and financial assistance to help Boulder County homeowners in the foothills and mountains prepare for wildfire.
Homeowners join Wildfire Partners and perform mitigation for many different reasons. Many want to be good neighbors and help create a more resilient community. Mitigating your property often provides direct and indirect benefits to your neighbors. In the Fourmile Canyon Fire, an individual homeowner who performed mitigation is recognized as helping save his neighbors’ homes as well. Wildfire Partners are serving as role models and early adopters for others in their communities.
With over one billion dollars in insured losses from four recent Colorado wildfires, it is becoming more and more difficult for homeowners to purchase insurance. Earning a Wildfire Partners Certificate (after passing a final inspection) helps participants obtain and renew insurance policies. Allstate and USAA Insurance recognize this certificate as proof of proper mitigation. State Farm recognizes this certificate for renewal business. We are not aware of any insurance company who has denied coverage for a Wildfire Partners certified home.
If you are planning to sell your home, the certificate is transferable and can be uploaded to your MLS listing to help you sell your home. Wildfire Partners who have sold their homes have found their mitigation has increased the selling price of their home.
Some homeowners join Wildfire Partners to receive financial support. Wildfire Partners provides qualifying homeowners with up to $2,500 in assistance. Additional funding is available for low income participants. Homeowners who would like to take action but cannot afford it, should apply. These subsidies will disappear when the grant funding has been allocated so homeowners seeking financial support should apply this year.
Other homeowners join Wildfire Partners because they want to work smarter; not harder. They are able to be more efficient and effective by actively participating in an on-site assessment with a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist and completing their individualized mitigation checklist contained in their customized assessment report. As Jim Merryman said, “I've been mitigating my land for a decade, but Wildfire Partners still taught me things I didn't know about wildfires and structure defense. I think everyone in the mountains should invite them up.”
Finally, many residents choose to participate in the program because taking action makes them feel good and gives them an increased peace of mind. They feel a sense of accomplishment knowing they have acted responsibly to help protect their family and the first responders who put their lives on the line for their community. At the same time, they have a better comprehension of fire behavior and understand that performing mitigation does not guarantee their home will survive a wildfire. They proudly display their Wildfire Partners yard sign as a symbol of their initiative and dedication.