County Corner, March 28, 2013
By Roger Baker
Despite the snow of the past few weekends, we’re still well below our normal snowpack, and as the fires in Larimer County have already alerted us, this also could be a very long wildfire season. And in Gilpin County government, we’re already taking steps to be prepared.
We’ll be mailing out a County Newsletter in the next few weeks, and using that to remind folks of some upcoming classes and workshops they can take advantage of to get prepared for the wildfire season.
Even more, though, the County is taking proactive measures to deal with potential wildfire dangers. In a few weeks, the Annual Fire Operating Plan (AOP) will be coming before the Commissioners for their approval.
This is something the Forest Service, state park, fire agencies, first responders and other emergency personnel put together every spring, outlining who is responsible for what (and who pays whom!) in the event of a major wildfire in Gilpin County, under the general supervision of Sheriff Hartman in his role as Fire Marshal for the County.
The plans make sure everybody is on the same page as far as radio communications protocols, equipment utilization and other mundane but absolutely essential logistical matters that are best agreed upon in advance of an actual incident.
Additionally, because of the short snow season, we’ll be opening the slash disposal site a little earlier than originally planned, on April 17th; that will allow local homeowners more time to get their brush and tree limbs removed and disposed of properly before they become a danger. Hours will be the same as the trash transfer station: Wednesday through Saturday 7 to 2:30, and Sunday from 9 to 2:30.
Then on April 27, the County, along with the Greater Rollinsville Community Association and Gilpin Extension, will host a Fire Preparedness Workshop from 2 to 4 at the Community Center.
Those two methods—promoting fire-wise activities, and making County resources available to support such activities—are pretty much no-brainers, and though some may argue the County should be doing even more, there’s another method the County could employ that would be less well-received.
Specifically, on April 9, the Commissioners will be meeting with representatives of the Coal Creek Canyon Fire Protection District to talk about some amendments to the latest version of the International Fire Code that the District would like the Commissioners to adopt for new buildings in their coverage area.
Those changes would require sprinkler systems in virtually all new construction, and provision of a water supply—usually by a cistern—or a cash payment to the District if no other water source is provided for fire protection.
Measures such as these go considerably beyond planning for the possibility of wildfire, and promoting reasonable protective practices among our citizens. It’s one thing to promote defensible space, and provide homeowners with best practices on how to arrange it; it’s another to require it.
Still, in these scary times, the Commissioners will have to look at all the options for County actions—from proclamations to workshops and maybe even building code changes. We’ll keep you posted!
And keep praying for snow!