A new report detailing vulnerabilities leading to the destruction of nearly 350 homes in Colorado Springs from the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire was released today during the “Creating Fire Adapted Communities Together” insurance-fire services summit in Reno, Nevada.
Accompanying the report is a video showcasing successful loss prevention efforts in Colorado Springs that could help other wildfire-prone communities reduce their risks.
“IBHS is proud to be a member of the member of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) Coalition, which sponsored this report. As a FAC member, IBHS is committed to helping people and communities in the wildland/urban interface adapt to living with wildfire and reduce their risk for damage, without compromising firefighter or civilian safety,” said Julie Rochman, CEO and President, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).
“Property insurers are extremely concerned about wildfire, particularly with drought conditions around the country predicted to continue for many years,” noted Rochman. “The useful post-disaster field research findings in the new Waldo Canyon report will provide critical insights for property owners. These findings also will inform future wildfire research, such as that conducted by scientists at the IBHS Research Center — the only facility in the world that can recreate a full-scale wildfire ember storm in a controlled environment.”
Major findings in “Lessons from Waldo Canyon” are outlined below.
• Fire spreading from home-to-home was again a major issue, as has been the case in previous wildfires, which caused a relatively large number of home losses.
• While it is important to harden a building with noncombustible materials to make it more resistant to wildfire, it also is necessary to incorporate appropriate construction details.
• Community leaders must recognize the value of community-wide collaboration, which is an essential component to home survival and to the creation of fire adapted communities.
• The community tax base is significantly impacted by the widespread damage and destruction of homes and businesses during wildfires. This has economic consequences for all residents.
• The preparedness message is most effective when delivered by numerous parties. Public policymakers, other officials, local community and business leaders should echo the best practices provided by the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition to reinforce the need for wildfire property protection efforts at every level.
The report was prepared by the Fire Adapted Communities Mitigation Assessment Team, which included experts in building science, forestry, social science and wildfire public education from the USDA Forest Service, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association and The Nature Conservancy. The team worked closely with the Colorado Springs Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Mitigation Section and the Colorado State Forest Service. The report and video are the result of interviews, field visits, and tours of Colorado Springs’ most affected neighborhoods conducted by the assessment team during a visit to the area in July 2012.
For more information about Fire Adapted Communities, visit www.fireadapted.org. For more information about protecting property from a variety of other natural hazards, such as hurricanes, severe winter weather, hailstorms, earthquakes and others, visit www.DisasterSafety.org.