Protecting the Foothills & Mountains West of Denver
Worried About Wildfires?
We Help Protect Your Home & Family From Forest Fires
While the Colorado foothills west of Denver are a beautiful place to live, the area is unfortunately prone to devastating wildfires. In fact, the Evergreen and Conifer area ranks in the top 10 areas country-wide at most risk for property loss due to wildfire*. Dry forest fuel (such as we usually experience in the summer) and high winds compound the problem.
Fire mitigation is one of the most important and effective ways to protect yourself, your family, and your home from the risk of catastrophic damage in a forest fire.
What Is Wildfire Mitigation?
Wildfire mitigation allows you to minimize the destructive effects a wildfire has on your property by creating a defensible space around your home and modifying the home's construction (for example, the materials used to build your house). Defensible space is the area around your house where the vegetation, including shrubs and trees, has been modified or removed to reduce the intensity of a wildfire and slow its spread.
Most Insurance Companies Require Fire Mitigation
Colorado as a whole has the country's third-highest percentage of homes at risk of destruction from wildfire, with over 366,000 homes at risk (according to a wildfire risk management tool used by insurers).
It's therefore not surprising that most companies that provide homeowner (or commercial building) insurance in our area require you to create and implement a fire mitigation plan before they will provide (or renew) your insurance. Without insurance, not only are you financially responsible for all damage, but your mortgage company (which requires you to have homeowners insurance) may cancel your financing.
When the Law Requires a Fire Mitigation Plan
When you buy a new home, the law mandates that you obtain a fire mitigation plan from the county.
If the plan calls for trees to be removed from around your house, you must hire a tree care company to remove the trees (note - it's important to hire a tree company that understands fire mitigation!). The property must then be reinspected by the Forestry inspector before you can be issued a certificate of occupancy (CO). Some insurance companies also require that certificate in order to provide coverage (in addition to their own inspection).
Fire Mitigation Services from LAM Tree Service
Our tree care professionals focus on reducing the number and volume of combustible plant fuels around your property to create a defensible space.
We focus on three levels of potential threats to your property:
These are combustible materials found on the ground, such as dry leaves and needles, fallen trees and branches, and dead plants (including trees). Removing them helps to slow down the speed and intensity of a wildfire.
Ladder fuels are materials that allow a fire to spread upward from the ground to the tree canopy or your roof. We carefully remove young trees/saplings, the lower branches of trees and any large shrubs that could ignite in a fire.
Heavy tree canopies allow a fire to quickly jump from tree to tree and spread beyond the reach of fire crews on the ground. Selectively thinning tree canopies can lower the risk of fire spreading.
Create a Defensible AND Beautiful Space
Defensible space doesn't have to be barren and ugly!
The Certified Arborists at LAM Tree Service can help you create a defensible and beautiful space around your home. You can have an attractive landscape that mitigates the spread of wildfire by:
- carefully choosing plants that are less flammable,
- planting and properly spacing them in areas that are less likely to contribute to wildfire, and
- maintaining healthy plants that are more fire resistant.
We specialize in helping you make the right choices and then implementing the plan to make your property and loved ones safer.
Get A Fire Mitigation Estimate
Call us at 303-674-8733 or contact us online to get an estimate for Fire Mitigation or a firewise landscaping consultation. Please note that there is a charge to provide an estimate.
Fire Mitigation Resources
For more details about creating a fire-resistant landscape to prevent or reduce wildfire damage to your home, check out our Firewise Landscaping Resource page.
Or see this Consumer Advisory from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies with fire mitigation and insurance tips.
FAQs About Fire Mitigation Services
Each insurance company requires different things when it comes to fire mitigation.
Here are some things you need to know before you can proceed:
- What guidelines, if any, did the insurance company send?
- Was there an inspection done by the insurance company?
- Have you spoken with your agent?
- Is there a deadline?
- Where are your property lines located?
Ideally, you will know the answers to those questions. If you don't, we can complete the steps necessary for "voluntary mitigation."
Note that if we proceed in this matter, you may need to switch insurance companies.
Contact us when you hear from your insurance company and we can help you if your insurance company is requesting or requiring fire mitigation on your property.
Fire mitigation is the reduction of light, moderate and heavy fuels in a forest stand.
Wildfire mitigation allows you to minimize the destructive effects a wildfire has on your property by creating a defensible space around your home and modifying the home's construction (for example, the materials used to build your house)
Because fire won’t start in a heavy fuel setting (think about starting a campfire; you’ll always begin with light material like paper, needles, or grass, then add on the small to medium pieces of wood like sticks and twigs before the “firewood”, the heavy fuel that will burn for the longest time), we focus on the light and moderate fuels on your property.
The goal is to reduce or mitigate all the light and moderate fuels to a point where they can’t start your heavy fuels on fire.
Defensible space is the area around your house where the vegetation, including shrubs and trees, has been modified or removed to reduce the intensity of a wildfire and slow its spread.
It is the area near the structures but also the area along the ingress/egress. Defensible space is the “space” fire personnel will work to access and protect the structures. It’s also the area we’ll all use to safely evacuate in the event of a wildfire.
Having a good defensible space will also prevent a structure fire (like a spilled turkey fryer on your deck) from becoming a forest fire. If your house somehow has a fire we want there to be a safe working area for the fire department.
No! This is a very common misnomer about fire mitigation.
Many of our large, old trees have seen a fire in their past. They have exceptionally thick bark at the bottom that helps them survive fire.
The problem is because of our fire suppression efforts, the fuel in the forest (too many trees) lends to large, more aggressive fires.
The goal of fire mitigation is to mitigate the fuels, usually focusing on the fuels that have developed (grown) in the last 50 years. These are all the small to medium-sized trees in our forest as well as any dead, downed, and diseased trees.
We do our best to preserve those mature trees because of their resistance to fire and their value to your landscape.
Looking for some great plants for firewise properties? We have an article on that!
We’ll begin near the house, known as the home ignition zone or zone one (Z1).
This is an area that includes the first 30’ around the home, down your driveway, and along the portion of roadway your property borders. It begins at the edge of the roofline or attachments, like a deck or overhanging eve. The driveway section is measured from the center of the drive out to the sides 30’.
Our aim is to create a defensible space here, so that fire personnel can gain access in the event of a fire. This area also mitigates the risk of a structure fire leading to a wildfire.
There need to be very few flammable materials in these areas, as access to the structure is critical during a fire event.
Ideally, trees and shrubs in this area should be deciduous and be easy to rake under when the leaves drop. Plants like juniper, which are very flammable, should never be found in zone one.
If those favorite trees are in a tight growing group and within the first 30 feet from the structure some will almost definitely have to be removed.
Helping us to identify your favorite tree(s) is one of the best starting points to getting your fire mitigation done and making it something you can live with.
Knowing what trees are of high value allows us to work on preserving them by cutting away the smaller trees and trimming the large ones to be more resistant to a wildfire.
Fire mitigation is something that should be addressed all the time.
It’s also something that in many forests can’t be done all at once.
There have been about 120 years of fire suppression in our area. Before we put out as many fires as possible, the area had a regularly occurring fire cycle. That fire cycle is what mitigated the fuels. Now we have to mechanically replicate that regularly occurring fire by removing the fuels.
We have had homeowners with larger lots do a bit every year since the mid-1990’s when fire mitigation became such an important topic. Before that, we called it “Forest health thinning” and did it more for aesthetics and disease resistance.
You’ll find that doing mitigation will help with many forest problems, not just fire. The feedback we receive is positive from clients. They see more diversity of wildflowers and wildlife as we return the forest to a more natural state.
Fire Mitigation is an ongoing project.
Because the fuels in your forest grow, add on and leave behind biomass every year, these need to be dealt with often.
There used to be a regularly occurring fire cycle in our area. This was like the garbage company coming regularly to deal with the forests waste. Our fire suppression efforts made the garbage company not come. What would your house look like if you quit taking out the trash?
In order to create a more defensible, mitigated space in your outdoor living area we like to have your input.
- what are your favorite trees?
- which trees block a bad view (like a neighbors shed)?,\
- what trees do you enjoy seeing from the home?
These are all going to help us preserve the trees you want to keep. We’ll also assess which trees may have a disease or a hazard so that these are removed during your mitigation work.
Many properties will need several different sessions of work in order to not thin the stand too quickly, making it susceptible to wind-throw and disease.
Because it is a difficult and involved process to set up a plan, the time involved requires us to charge for that time. You’ll be happier with this process in the end!
Wildfire risk has increased in Colorado and other parts of the U.S.
You can read our blog post on why wildfire risk is increasing in order to:
- learn why wildfires are becoming more of a problem,
- assess the wildfire risk in our area,
- understand how it impacts your home or business insurance, and
- peruse a handy list and description of the best local resources for wildfire preparedness, mitigation, and assistance.
Risk of wildfires is constant in the Evergreen, CO area. We've put together a list of wildfire resources to help you learn more about fire mitigation in our area.
Saturday & Sunday by appointment only