Working Together to Prevent Damage from Wildfires
By Einar Jensen, Life Safety Educator
South Metro Fire Rescue Authority
The Pinery ecosystem was generated by wildfire. Historically, low- and moderate-intensity wildfires burned through this area, recycling nutrients into the soil and reducing completion for resources such as water, nutrients, sunlight and space. Those wildfires created habitat for the towering ponderosa pines, Gambel oak, mountain mahogany and other plant species that make your neighborhoods so wonderful.
In fact the Black Forest as a whole is a product of wildfire.
The Pinery has changed in the last few decades. It remains an ecosystem borne of wildfire, but now the native vegetation shares space with exotic species and piles of fuel we usually call homes, schools and infrastructure.
Preventing wildfires in such a vibrant ecosystem is silly. A better goal – and one that South Metro Fire Rescue Authority has adopted – is preventing them from destroying property and injuring people. But we can't do that alone; all of us need to work together and share the responsibility to protect our community.
The risk of wildfire is debatable. A fire hasn't burned in The Pinery for decades, but a fire almost burned through here in March 2012.
Had the wind not shifted that afternoon, the Burning Tree Fire may have burned all the way to E470. Firefighters can do little to contain a fire driven by 60-mph winds.
While that fire didn’t affect The Pinery directly (beyond causing an evacuation), this neighborhood remains vulnerable to wildfire. The big one could ignite at any time.
Thus, today is a great day to reduce our collective vulnerability, even if you disagree with us about the risk of a wildfire.
Let’s make 2015 a year of safety for our families. We challenge you to do five things between now and March to improve the safety of your loved ones and the ability of your property to resist a wildfire.
- Contact us at 720-989-2273 or LifeSafetyEducation@southmetro.org to schedule a home ignition zone assessment. A life safety educator or mitigation specialist will walk your property with you and discuss ways to make your property more resilient. This free service takes 30 minutes usually.
- Register for CodeRed, Douglas County’s reverse notification system. Visit www.dcsheriff.net to register.
- Creates a family evacuation plan. Remember that Burning Tree Fire? It occurred during Spring Break when many kids were home alone and unable to leave without assistance. We can help you build those plans.
- Make sure your pets have proper and updated identification. They may get separated from you during a stressful evacuation. Proper identification can help ensure prompt reunification.
- Take the following survey to help us understand your neighborhood better as we consider strategies for improving your safety: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q962S62 As I said above, we share the responsibility for safety.
If you have questions, you want to schedule an assessment or you would like a presentation regarding wildfire for a group of neighbors, colleagues or friends, please contact us using the telephone number or email address listed above.