EFR Responds : Mitigation and Evacuation Questions from the Public

The following information outlines questions, verbatim, raised by Evergreen residents at the Evergreen Fire Protection District's Board meeting on October 12, 2021, and the District's responses to those questions.

Topics
  • Mitigation and Evacuation
  • Station 1
  • Organizational
  • WUI Code Adoption

Mitigation and Evacuation Questions
  • Pet issue #1 - clearing row’s, the flanking 4 feet, seems low hanging fruit. It widens the useable roads, improves sight lines, sets example, clears burning material from the closest 4 feet to the road. Get permission from the sundry owners of the ROW’s. Use volunteers to cut and remove, with expert involvement (I’ve had people volunteer to do that). Minimal expense to cover their expenses. Would need a place to haul - preferably in one place for monster slash burn.
  • With regard to mitigation along the highways, both state and county, can we ask/expect both Jeffco Roads and State Roads to help out with this problem? Couldn’t they be “expected” to cut and maintain 15’-25’ along roads?
  • Evacuation routes that are identified in EFR CWPP as “choke points” are not all on private land. CO 103 is a major concern with most of the road on public land. Is the actual width 25 feet from the center of the road or 150 feet? Who will do the mitigation?
  • Pet Issue #2 - use the back roads on private property during evacuation. 4-wheel and ATV passable roads exist in many places. Off top of Golden Willow to Hangin [sic] Ranch, somewhere up from outdoor school, between Overlook and dead end road at 2 mile mark of Upper Bear. Bold thought, improve them to increase navigability. Paul ixnayed them saying not all vehicles could navigate them. Duh. Some, maybe many, can navigate them. Let them use those roads, reducing load on regular roads. Get more people out safely. Yes, issue with stopping 55 Buick from trying. Maybe make entrance top of hill climb.
  • Pet Issue #3 - designate shelter in placeareas, and if not meet all spec’s,  note deficiencies. If road jammed, and fire coming, the Golden Willow/Upper Bear area has large fields. And a stream. If shelter in place was my best choice, what should I know to improve my chances in deficient areas. Stuff hits the fan, people will certainly go there anyway.
  • Is there a written evacuation plan?
  • Could I have a copy of the evacuation plan?
  • What specific plans are there to run practice evacuations, especially around areas of egress that are bound to be crowded during fires in Evergreen (eg. 74 to I70, El Rancho Activity Ctr, 73, etc.)?
  • Is it possible to get support from EFR for large scale grants (FEMA, etc.) that would help tackle evacuation route mitigation?
  • Any plans for 2022 grant match support for CWPIP?

EFR Responses
The Evergreen area is at a high risk for catastrophic loss due to wildfire. It is the reality of our choice to live in such a beautiful area. As emergency personnel, our goal is to reduce the risk of loss due to wildfire. This goal cannot be achieved alone. Law enforcement and fire personnel need individual homeowners to always be prepared. There are a number of steps you can take to help us, help you.

Always Be Prepared
Living in the wildland urban interface (WUI), you must always be prepared for wildfire. It is not a question of “if” but “when” the next wildfire will occur. Catastrophic wildfires are becoming a regular occurrence that we must all prepare for. Creating an evacuation plan for you and your family is something everyone living in a WUI must do. This will help you prioritize items to take, how to evacuate safely with, and care for, pets and livestock and ways to reconnect with family and friends once you have evacuated.

Depending on a fire’s location and behavior, various roads may not be usable. Determinations of which routes to take are made by Jefferson or Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department and fire officials at the time of the emergency. Routes are also determined with safety of evacuees in mind. These instructions will be delivered through CodeRED as well as strategically placed emergency personnel.

In the event of a wildfire, Jefferson and Clear Creek Counties will use two types of messaging to keep you informed of the situation (In order to receive these notifications you must be registered with CodeRED):
  1. Advisory messages provide information but do not require any action on your part.
  2. Instructions provide information and require you to take some action to be safe. There are three standard instructions you may receive:
Shelter in Place: There is a hazard in your area and you should remain or go indoors, not go outdoors, and not evacuate the area. This may be the safest strategy for hazardous materials, law enforcement, or other incidents wherein an evacuation could actually increase the danger to you.

Pre-Evacuation: There is a hazard in your area that may require you to evacuate in the near future. Everyone should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. If you feel you are in danger and want to leave, do so. If you need additional time to evacuate, you should consider leaving now. If you need to arrange for transportation assistance, you should do so immediately. If you have livestock or other large animals, you should consider removing them from the hazard area now. Pre-evacuation, or early evacuation, is your best action to reduce roadway congestion and to keep yourself safe.

Evacuation: There is a hazard in your area and you have been ordered to evacuate immediately. If you need assistance evacuating yourself or need help evacuating animals, call 911. You will be provided the safest escape routes known, so make sure you follow the instructions as other routes may be closed or unpassable. You will also be told where an evacuation point has been established to provide information and a safe place if you have nowhere else to go. Do not delay – evacuation means you need to leave immediately!

CodeRED


Making yourself familiar with your surroundings prior to a pre-evacuation or evacuation notice will be critical. Familiarize yourself with alternate routes so that you know which will take you from the area and which may not have an outlet.

Evergreen Fire/Rescue offers Evacuation Route maps on our website for you to print and study. Click the link to access the maps and download them.
If you don’t see your area with suggested routes please contact us to prepare one for your area.

Ultimately, you are your greatest asset in preparing for an evacuation. Have a plan in place, be familiar with your neighborhood’s primary roadways, be prepared to evacuate in a short amount of time, develop and maintain situational awareness and have a willingness to evacuate immediately.

Wildfire behavior can present in many different forms and is heavily influenced by weather, topography and fuels. Wildfires can move into communities at incredibly high rates of speed with little to no warning or can start at a distance that allows a community to prepare and evacuate in a more methodical approach. Recreating a scenario to practice something that has such wide variability can be incredibly complicated and cannot replicate conditions, such as visibility, heat, ember wash, panic, fire behavior and direction of movement. Individual responsibility is the most important aspect of evacuations and therefore it is encouraged by the Evergreen Fire Protection District to practice your home and neighborhood evacuation. How long does it take for you to gather all important and valuable items?  What routes will be possible for you to leave the community from?  With active participation within neighborhoods, greater education can be made in preparing neighbors for how to evacuate safely.

What more can citizens do BEFORE a wildfire event?
The recommendations for creating a more fire safe community can be found in our Evergreen Fire Protection District Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and the neighborhood specific Community Wildfire Protection and Implementation Plans (CWPIP). These plans serve as living documents to evaluate wildfire risk and plan ways to reduce risk of loss. The CWPIPs create a map of priority work within our neighborhoods, taking specific risks into account. If your area does not currently have a CWPIP and you are interested in developing one, please reach out to Evergreen Fire/Rescue.

However, there are broad recommendations that carry throughout the fire district.

Begin with your home and your defensible space. The Home Ignition Zone Guide (Colorado State Forest Service) is the most effective information and mitigation recommendations that can be used in reducing loss in the event of a wildfire. Not only are you reducing the risk of loss of your home but you may also be providing firefighters a safe haven to shelter during a wildfire and even potentially take a stand against the oncoming fire. Mitigating the Home Ignition Zone is the number one priority for everyone living within Evergreen to help us in reducing risk of loss from wildfire.

Evergreen Fire/Rescue, in cooperation with Jefferson and Clear Creek Counties, provides landowners the opportunity to burn their own slash. If any you want to continue your wildfire risk reduction efforts throughout the winter, obtaining a burn permit is highly recommended. This is a safe and effective way to consume slash and develop your understanding of fire behavior. If you follow the defined pile building guidelines and burning protocols, it is a safe way to process slash in the winter. 

Please follow the links below to access the permit application for your county. 
Clear Creek County
Jefferson County

As you complete your Home Ignition Zone mitigation work, utilizing the CWPIPs, you can begin to work together within your community to move into neighborhood roadways, right of ways, and potentially even larger scale fuel breaks. Our CWPIPs provide detailed information on ways to work together to reduce risk in the areas that will likely be used as evacuation routes and/or strategic areas for bringing wildfire to the ground for firefighters to fight. This level of mitigation work within your community has many moving parts and can become very costly. Cooperation and communication amongst your neighbors and other landowners is critical to the success of larger scale neighborhood mitigation.

Responsibility of property mitigation falls solely on the property owner, whether it is private, local, county, state or federally owned land. Evergreen Fire Protection District does not have the right to mitigate any land within the district without land owner permission and the appropriate project planning in place. It is one of the recommendations within the CWPIPs to create and develop projects with all land owners participating. Evergreen Fire/Rescue can provide assistance and guidance to CWPIP leaders in developing these projects.

The cost of mitigation within the Home Ignition Zone, as well as larger scale neighborhood projects, can run from hundreds of dollars, well into the millions of dollars. This is where prioritizing, private and public partnerships and creative funding sources becomes important. Unfortunately, not every land owner or land manager has the desire and/or the financial means to do mitigation work on their property. Evergreen Fire/Rescue has no ability to enforce participation in mitigation work. It is only within the district’s purview to encourage mitigation work for the community’s greater risk reduction.

Grants have become a common resource to accomplish a variety of wildfire mitigation projects. As CWPIP projects are proposed, Evergreen Fire/Rescue will work with your CWPIP leaders to think of creative funding opportunities, including grant sources. There are a wide variety of granting sources, with varying requirements, goals, and award amounts. Evergreen Fire/Rescue has staff available to help your CWPIP leaders in determining the best routes to take for funding. This partnership and cooperation can help in facilitating greater participation from land owners and managers but is not a guarantee that mitigation will occur.


Station One Question
How will spending millions on a new fire station help save lives and structures versus spending that money on fire planning and implementation that affects hundreds and hundreds of residents and saving their lives in a wildfire?

EFR Response
Station One, located below the dam in historic downtown Evergreen, is the oldest station and protects the downtown area and surrounding subdivisions. It was constructed in 1966. It houses a structural engine, two heavy water tenders, a pump truck, a brush engine, a rescue truck and a utility vehicle. It was recognized in the 2001 and 2014 Master Plans that the station is not at an ideal site and its age has become a factor. It is in a floodplain and the traffic that passes along Jefferson County 73 makes access to and from the station difficult. Changes to Highway 73 scheduled for 2021 and 2022 will impact the station by reducing the depth of the apparatus apron which is currently marginal at best and eliminating parking for firefighters responding to the station.

When the District initially began looking at issues with Station One highway widening was not planned. We surveyed the existing site to determine if it was feasible to replace the station in that location. We projected the costs of pushing deeper into the hillside. While possible, it is not economically sound to rebuild on property that has no potential space for expansion. Once notified the road would be widened we knew that rebuilding at the current site was no longer a possibility.

We considered the option of rebuilding at the Station Four location and consolidating the EMS station housed there with the fire apparatus. However, the property at Station Four is not large enough to accommodate 10 bays (7 fire apparatus from Station One, with 3 ambulances, and a utility/snow plow truck from Station Four). We began looking at property between the two stations to find something large enough for our current needs and the potential to expand in the future as further population growth or density drives that need. The property formerly known as Anderson Market, or Mountain Market, became available as did a small property just to the south and another property behind the market off of Buffalo Park Road.

In 2016, as part of the request for a mill levy increase, the District publicized its intent to use the increased mill for two significant proposals. Emergency Medical Services would be fully funded in response to the Affordable Care Act, and Station One savings would begin in preparation for the eventual replacement. With the opportunity to obtain the three properties, the District felt it was in the best interest of the community to purchase these in advance of the need to build the station. The purchases were made from the Station One Reserve Fund that was established.

Organizational Questions
  • Wildland Coordinator (will this position be filled?), Wildland Specialist, Fuels Crew, Wildland Mitigation Specialist and Wildland Community Risk Coordinator (Mitigation & Grants) - who they all report to? 
  • Can EFR Chipping Crew be dedicated to chipping?
  • Is it possible to have a chipping team 100% dedicated to chipping vs deployed to fight wildfires?
  • Who in the Department will be responsible? What are plans for addressing Evergreen CWPP Corrective Actions? 1.) Creating 10 strategic fuel breaks prioritized in CWPP (p 56-78)  ) Creating fuel treatments at the Highest Priority locations identified in CWPP (p 79-81)  3.) Providing guidance for wildfire mitigation easements for community leaders on non-survivable roadways  4.) Developing evacuation planning for Evergreen in conjunction with Jeffco Emergency Management
  • Who is taking over these duties? 1.) Monitor & reporting on Geo Spatial portal )  Representing EFR with Mountain Metro Wildfire Mitigation Counsel, Jeffco Wildfire Task Force Commission, Upper South Platte Partnership, Jeffco Hazard Mitigation Planning
  • Are there plans on getting someone on board with these wildfire credentials? Division / Group Supervisor, DIVS ◦ Task Force Leader (TFLD) ◦ Incident Commander Type 3 & 4 ◦ Strike Team Leader 2. Prescribed Fire Burn Boss, Type 2, RXB2 ◦ Fire Boss ◦ Burn Boss Type 2 Certification (RXB2) ◦ Position Task Book (PMS 311074)
  • Are the Wildland Captain position and credentials going to be replaced?
  • Define success. And get there in 10 years. Lots of activity, dozens of leadership folk, 7 at department. Yet, after all the talks to hoa’s, flyers, door knocking, the pace in my area (upper bear east) at least is glacial.
  • I figure 3%, 10-15 out of my 450 have done anything. If lucky 5 more per year. Another 1%. At this pace, it will take 47 years to get 50% properties mitigated.
  • Step back. I’ll offer one “man on the moon” statement. Within 10 years, enuff [sic] mitigation that EFR can safely say it can confine wildland fires to neighborhoods. No Hayman on Evergreen. If it should be done eventually, why not do it now.
  • No doubt achieving it would be painful. However, hard to argue with logic of spending few $K mitigating to protect a million $ home. No slick answer on how to get landowner participation. Pay them, require them, convince them (not likely to work). This is rich town. This is economically smart goal.
  • Lack of progress on addressing critical action items identified in 2020 Evergreen CWPP. Is Wildland Prevention & Mitigation a priority for EFR?
  • Is the 2022 budget being cut for wildland?
  • Is it possible to have a plan to tackle corrective actions identified in the 2020 Evergreen CWPP and help obtain grant funding (like FEMA) to support efforts? • Mitigate 10 Strategic Fuel Breaks • Mitigate Non-Survivable, Highly Congested Evacuation Routes • Mitigate high priority community areas • Prepare Shelter-In-Place locations as recommended by Evergreen CWPP
  • Is it possible to conduct home assessments on 1,000 homes/year and for EFR to apply for matching grants (like Elk Creek)?

EFR Responses
As EFR moves into the wildland offseason, we are reviewing the fuels program for what has worked and where we can develop program efficiencies. Our offseason becomes our planning season where we will continue to prepare for the 2022 wildfire season and for ways to reduce risk and potential loss from wildfire within our community. This involves working with CWPIP leaders for plan unit projects within their neighborhoods, larger scaled fuel projects, educating the community regarding wildfire awareness and being a resource for homeowners in how they can be best prepared. Fuel mitigation work and wildfire preparation is not a “one and done” tactic. Every season will be slightly different as projects and funding sources will adjust with prioritizations and agency budgets. What can always be held to a constant is Evergreen Fire/Rescue has the drive to do everything that we can to make our community safer.

Hearing the frustration of our CWPIP leaders as well as keeping with EFR’s mission, there will be a thorough review of the Wildland Program to evaluate the future direction. The program evaluation will determine the level of personnel needed to meet the program’s goals and ensure the greater mission of Evergreen Fire/Rescue is being met. EFR will post the Wildland Coordinator position based on the credentials as determined to best meet the EFR mission. Our selection process of applicants and interviews will determine the applicant that will be best suited for the job.

The Wildland Program will continue to be supported by the Wildland Specialist, the fuels crew, the Community Risk Reduction Coordinator, the Wildfire Mitigation Specialist, the Training Coordinator and the Prevention Chief. By design, no program within the fire service is solely dependent on any one individual.


Completed Projects and Work in Progress as of 10/26/21
2018
CWPIP Grant from The Nature Conservancy (TNC): ~$10,000 reimbursed to community members within Plan Units with CWPIP in place. Projects included defensible space implementation, chipper rentals, roll off dumpster rentals.

2019
CWPIP Grant from TNC: $26,861 reimbursed to community members within Plan Units with CWPIP in place. Projects included defensible space implementation, chipper rentals, roll off dumpster rentals. Plan Units included North Turkey Creek, Stagecoach/Hiwan Hills, Buffalo Park Estates, Floyd Hill, Fillius Park (Soda Creek), and Evergreen Meadows.

2020
  • CWPIP Grant from TNC: $48,278 reimbursed to community members within Plan Units with CWPIP in place. Projects included defensible space implementation, chipper rentals, roll off dumpster rentals.
  • Additionally, $22,150 was reimbursed to community members for Full Defensible implementation. These defensible space projects were performed in Buffalo Park Estates (3 complete defensible spaces), Evergreen Meadows (5 complete defensible spaces), and Evergreen Highlands (2 complete defensible spaces).
  • Community Chipping Projects: Soda Creek, Witter Gulch, Evergreen Highlands
  • Fuel Break Implementation: Stagecoach JeffCo Open Space 19 acres cut, Echo Hills (USFS) Pile Burning ~2000 piles
2021
  • Chipping Website Sign-Up Program: 285 piles chipped
  • Community/Large Chipping Projects: Soda Creek: 326 piles chipped; Timbers: 80 piles chipped; Greg Weiss: 70 piles chipped; Evergreen Highlands: 80 piles chipped; Firefighters: 55 piles chipped  (Each pile is 5'x5'x5' for a total of 125 cubic feet per pile.) 
  • Total Piles Chipped to date: 896 (112,000 cubic feet)
  • Cutting Projects: Dedisse Park (Denver Mountain Parks): 16.3 Acres total. Near Completion.
  • Note: There were 27 truck loads (about 20 standard piles can be chipped into the truck before it needs to be dumped) of chips removed from the deDisse Park Fuel Break cutting site. This equated to another 67,500 cubic feet of slash being treated and removed from this fuel break.
  • Total volume of slash chipped to date is 179,500 cubic feet. 
  • Fuel Break Implementation: Indian Creek Ranch (ongoing), Dedisse Park (ongoing)
  • Mount Evans State Wildlife Area pile burning (DFPC)
  • Defensible space cut in Witter Gulch and ~20 defensible spaces marked in Evergreen Highlands.
2022
  • North Evergreen Community Protection Project 140 acres: 65 acres of roadside fuel break along Hwy 103, 65 acres of forest restoration and fuels reduction thinning and 10 acres of defensible space thinning on private lots.
  • North Turkey Creek Community Protection Project: 27 acres treated across private properties at Evergreen Highlands HOA, 27 acres treated across private properties at non-HOA Marschner properties and 10 acres treated and implemented across private and community properties at Timbers HOA.
  • Continued Community Chipping Program and Home Mitigation/Defensible Space Inspections.

WUI Code Adoption Questions
With Regard to Resolution #2021-0005-402.2 – where is the water supply going to come from; especially in South Evergreen?

EFR Responses
The WUI Code is a supplement to the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) specific to structures in the Wildland Urban Interface. It is not a stand-alone code but one that addresses the unique challenges of the WUI based upon international best practices.

For development, EFR recommends or projects fire flow requirements based upon building area, construction type and use. This information is provided to Jeffco Planning and Zoning/Building Safety for the applicant to pursue with their respective water district. More definitive information regarding water resources may be obtained by contacting the area’s respective water metro district.

In areas outside of a water district with a defined distribution system, domestic water is often provided through a well. Protection systems (automatic sprinklers) are supplied by a contained, or static, water source of which the capacity is based upon the area of protection (square feet) and the duration (10-30 minutes). Cisterns are a more strategic water source of large capacity, typically thirty-thousand or more gallons, used to supplement firefighting. It is the responsibility of the cistern owner to provide water to fill the cistern, often times having water trucked in from elsewhere.