Eagle River Fire Protection District releases updated wildfire protection plan | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Fire Protection District releases updated wildfire protection plan

Eagle River Fire Protection District has released its new Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The plan provides a comprehensive analysis of wildfire-related hazards and risks in the Wildland Urban Interface — an area where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with vegetative fuels — and makes numerous recommendations to aid stakeholders in preventing and/or reducing the threat of wildfire in their communities. Approximately one-third of Eagle County is considered WUI.

For ERFP Wildland Mitigation Specialist Jeff Zechman, wildfire mitigation planning is a year-round focus. Since 2014, Zechman has been working to develop long-term wildfire prevention and education strategies for communities throughout the district. Part of that effort has been to update the District’s CWPP, which was last updated in 2011.

Over the past several years, ERFPD has worked with Eagle County, towns and HOAs to conduct local fuels reduction programs in areas like EagleVail, Red Cliff, and Bellyache Ridge, all projects aimed at reducing the risk of a catastrophic fire in WUI communities. 

Each summer, Zechman spends the majority of his time in the field, updating ERFPD pre-attack plans as well as mapping and developing evacuation routes and designated temporary shelter zones for each neighborhood in the district. That includes going door-to-door, talking to homeowners about the program and what they can do to prepare for wildfire season. Personalized property risk assessments are available as part of a larger community outreach program available to individuals, property managers, businesses and associations.

“This is just one way we can help homeowners reduce the risk of wildfire,” Zechman said in a press release. “We conduct a comprehensive on-site assessment of your property and provide you with a customized report detailing actions you should take to ensure that you are fully prepared and have adequate defensible space.”

Defensible space is an area surrounding a house or structure where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the intensity of any approaching wildfire, and to allow firefighters to safely defend the property. In many cases creating effective defensible space requires working with neighbors.

“Wildfire does not recognize property lines,” Zechman said. “Wildfires can impact entire communities; if you effectively mitigate your property, you may help save your neighbor’s home and vice versa.”

To learn more about property assessments or to schedule a presentation to your homeowner’s association or group, please contact Zechman at (970) 471-2796 or jzechman@eagleriverfire.org.

The Eagle River Fire Protection District 2019 CWPP can be read online at http://www.erfpd.org/preparedness-prevention under the heading “Wildland Fire.”