Decades of catastrophic wildfires, research, and case studies have shown that extreme wildfires are inevitable in the forests of Boulder County and across the Western US, but loss of life and homes do not have to be inevitable. The conditions that principally determine if a house ignites are vegetation within 100 feet of the house, and the house itself.
That is why Boulder County has such strong wildfire mitigation requirements in our Community Planning Building Code. The county encourages all homeowners to voluntarily take responsibility to mitigate their own home’s risk of igniting in a wildfire through Wildfire Partners.
All home owners applying for a building permit will need to meet wildfire mitigation requirements and pay the required fees to the Community Planning and Permits Department. To begin that process, please contact one of our regulatory Wildfire Mitigation Specialists listed below.
Kyle McCatty, 720-564-2625, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abby Silver, 720-564-2641, email@example.com
For existing homeowners applying for a building permit for a deck or addition, please contact a regulatory Wildfire Mitigation Specialist at Boulder County Community Planning & Permits before submitting an application. Homeowners currently certified through Wildfire Partners still pay the building permit fee and schedule a site visit with a mitigation specialist.
The new home permit will be located within Wildfire Zone 1 (west of Hwys 36/93) and will need to meet the wildfire mitigation requirements of the Boulder County Building Codes.
Homeowners can choose between two options to meet these requirements: Wildfire Partners or Regulatory Wildfire Mitigation. If you choose the Wildfire Partners path, the homeowner must complete the application and waiver, not the contractor. Homeowners building new residences are not eligible for financial awards for forestry work.
For new homes, both options require an assessment with a Wildfire Mitigation Specialist on our Wildfire Mitigation Team. To reduce the probability of home ignition from crown and surface fires (defensible space/vegetation), a noncombustible barrier (generally rock and gravel extending out 3 feet from the edge of structures) must be put in to reduce the probability of home ignition from a surface fire. Ignition-resistant materials are also required by the building code to reduce the home’s vulnerabilities to ignition from embers. Defensible space will be marked around the new home, other new structures, and any accessory structures that threaten the primary structure.
The Wildfire Partners path requires the homeowner to be at and participate in the wildfire mitigation assessment. The benefits of Wildfire Partners are:
- Education: the homeowner must participate in the on-site assessment
- Ability to obtain insurance: the certificate helps to acquire wildfire-related insurance
- Resale: the certificate helps with the resale of the home
Homeowners will need to choose an option and have a wildfire mitigation specialist conduct a wildfire mitigation assessment and mark defensible space BEFORE a building permit can be issued. The mitigation assessment and defensible space marking can be scheduled at any time. However, we recommend waiting until you have a better idea on where the exact location of the building footprint and any attachments, driveway, turnouts, turnarounds, septic, leach field, etc. Knowing the location of these will reduce the amount of trees that need to be removed.