Maybe it’s that pesky address marker. Or it’s that tree that you’re feeling sentimental about. Or it’s something on your report that you haven’t the slightest idea of how to do.
Maybe it’s money.
Whatever it is, we are here to help you. Our goal for each homeowner is to provide whatever assistance we can to help you to get certified. A certification by Wildfire Partners provides immense benefits. Should you be evacuated for a wildfire, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you did everything you could to protect your home.
So, what are your challenges? What’s keeping you from getting certified?
Is it your trees?
Regarding defensible space, keep in mind that Wildfire Partners does have a grant funding available to assist with the cost of forestry work for properties new to our program. Once you receive your report, check your Financial Award Deadline on the front page. Call to get bids from the list of approved forestry contractors. Email the bid to email@example.com to get approval and schedule the work. We even have a program for those with limited fixed incomes to provide extra financial assistance. If you don’t qualify for our grant funding, consider using community resources. Contact your local fire protection district. Maybe your neighborhood can organize a Community Work Day similar to Saws and Slaws. Many hands make light work is especially true when it comes to fire mitigation. We hosted a Community Work Day at our home in Nederland and it was amazing to see the amount of work a group of people could accomplish in four hours. The cost? Hosting a potluck barbecue for the people who helped us out.
Are you emotionally attached to a tree that got marked during your assessment? It’s easy to feel that way living in the mountains. Most of us moved here because we love the forest. However, most homeowners are surprised by how much they enjoy a more mitigated forest around their house. Better views, more sunlight are some of the perks. It often creates a more diverse and healthy forest too. Aspens in particular thrive on openings created among conifer trees. Once the canopy is opened up, you might find a grove of aspens have grown up in 2-3 years. I’ve shared my own story about a favorite Lodgepole being cut down. At the time, it felt heartbreaking. But within 1-2 months, I couldn’t remember where the tree had been any longer. And, as I’ve shared many times with friends that I’ve never wished we kept more trees while being evacuated for a fire.
A lot of homeowners get hung up on home retrofit work. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) kind of person. But most of the work is at a minimal cost and just requires a bit of learning. Patching holes, caulking gaps, flashing the junction of the deck don’t require rocket science. Maybe you’re not sure where to find the materials necessary. You can always contact a Wildfire Partners advisor or mitigation specialist to ask questions and get advice. Another great resource is Home Retrofit Photo Gallery on our website. I’m a visual person, and once I can see something through a photo, it often becomes a lot clearer on how to tackle a project. Youtube can be a great resource for how to get these tasks done as well.
Maybe it’s just procrastination. We’ve had a pretty good monsoon season this year with a lot of precipitation. It’s easy to say, “Oh, there won’t be any fires this year, I can wait awhile to tackle my mitigation projects.” Keep in mind, that it only takes a couple of weeks of dry, hot weather to ramp up fire danger again. Some of the county’s worst fires have occurred late in the season. Fourmile Canyon in September, and Calwood and Lefthand Canyon Fires last October. Think about the emotional and financial cost of losing your home. We’ve all been through an extremely stressful year and a half. Imagine being homeless having lost your life’s belongings. What about the cost of finding a new place to live? The pandemic has caused housing costs to rise at an extreme rate. Isn’t the time and money spent on wildfire mitigation worth it, when you consider the consequences?
On a more pragmatic basis, when you get certified, you’ll receive both a Wildfire Partners yard sign and a certificate. A yard sign posted at the junction of your driveway and the main road signifies that your home has been adequately mitigated so that it is safe for firefighters to defend it. This is especially important when you have a longer driveway where the house is out of sight from the main road. Firefighters quickly access neighborhoods to determine which homes can safely be defended, at times using a stoplight system. Long ago, I heard an interview on National Public Radio (NPR) with a firefighter who discussed how they “triage” neighborhoods when fighting fires.
“We tag homes green, yellow and historic.”
“Why historic and not red?” asked the interviewer.
“Because a home that has no wildfire mitigation is history. It can’t safely be defended by firefighters.”
Not only will fire mitigation help firefighters defend it, it will help you keep your insurance. The certificate can be sent to your insurance agent to show proof of adequate wildfire mitigation. Since the fires of last October, I’ve had numerous phone calls from long-time homeowners who’ve gotten non-renewal letters out of the blue, threatening to cancel their insurance within 30 days. Depending on the insurance company, the Wildfire Partners certificate is good for 2-3 years. Insurance companies accept a Wildfire Partners certificate as proof of adequate wildfire mitigation. So this would prevent them from non-renewing you for that reason. Getting certified signifies your proactive commitment to fire mitigation for your insurance company.
In the next coming weeks, your mitigation specialist will be contacting you to check in. This is a great opportunity to have that conversation, “What do I need to get certified?”
Now’s the time to tackle wildfire mitigation and join your neighbors in protecting your community from the threat of wildfires.
Five years ago, when we were evacuated for the Cold Springs Wildfire, I got a message from our mitigation specialist through Facebook with a heartfelt message. “Leslie, I want you to know that you guys have one of the best mitigated homes I’ve seen. Know that you did everything you could.” During a time of high stress and anxiety, I took great comfort from those words.