Timberline Fire Protection District to Offer Fire Mitigation Services to Residents - August 16, 2022
Timberline Fire Protection District is launching a new Fire Mitigation and Defensible Space division within the department. The unit will focus on reducing the risk of wildland fires in the district by engaging in preventative defensible space work.
Timberline Chief Paul Ondr created the new team after evaluating the district’s overall risk in light of recent fire behavior. “The reality is that wildland fires have become bigger and hotter in the last 20 years. While we can’t change the weather, we know that defensible space work is one of the single most effective ways to mitigate the spread of fires if they happen and reduce the potential threat to life and property,” Ondr said.
Defensible space is the buffer you create around the buildings on your property and the flammable material – grass, trees, or any wildland area – that surrounds it. Keeping this area clear slows or stops the spread of a fire and helps protect your home from catching fire.
The new unit, led by Mitigation Program Coordinator Garth Wagner, started with two community-wide projects in Missouri Lakes and Dory Hill. The projects were chosen – and funded – by Gilpin County because of their existing fire risk. Wagner and his team thinned dead and downed trees along neighborhood roads in order to create a better fire break and improve emergency access to the communities.
While the unit will continue to do project work for the county, its current focus moving forward will be offering services directly to homeowners and residents. Currently, the department is offering free individual home assessments to residents within the district. “We will come to your property, assess your wildland fire risk, and offer you suggestions for work that should be done in order to keep you and your home safe,” Wagner said.
Homeowners can choose to do the work themselves or Wagner and his team will complete the work at a discounted rate. “We wanted the program to be affordable to make it accessible to more residents. Defensible space works best if everyone does their part,” Ondr said.
Fire mitigation and defensible space work isn’t new to Wagner, who relocated back to the area after a decade of fighting fire all over the West and, most recently, running his own defensible space company in California.
“California is a bit further along in its requirements for fire mitigation. Homes there must pass a wildland fire inspection prior to sale and insurance companies require annual inspections in order to maintain coverage. Colorado isn’t there yet, but we are taking what they’ve learned and applying best practices here.”
Wagner is excited to bring his experience back to the Peak to Peak. “This is a full circle moment for me. I got my start in fire as a volunteer for the Nederland Fire Department in 1998, so I know the area well,” Wagner said. “What I learned on Ned Fire gave me a solid foundation to go off and fight fire for state and federal agencies in 20 states, from Alaska to Florida. I look forward to bringing that experience back to the area.”
To schedule your free wildland fire assessment, call Garth Wagner at 720-398-1972 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.