Colorado doesn’t have a statewide building code. Would enacting one help protect homes against wildfire?

A handful of state lawmakers are interested in pursuing a statewide building code, in large part as a way to secure more federal grant money

Jesse Paul
The Colorado Sun
This aerial shot of Mesa Cortina neighborhood shows how close the 2018 Buffalo Mountain Fire got to destroying homes.
U.S. Forest Service/Courtesy photo

DENVER — A handful of Democratic state lawmakers are interested in pursuing legislation next year that would enact a statewide minimum building code in Colorado as part of broader long-term efforts to prepare for wildfires driven by a warming climate.

The new code could help unlock millions of dollars in federal grant funding to protect communities against wildfire and other disasters, while also ensuring new homes are built with materials and landscaping resistant to flames.

“One of the most effective hazard mitigation tools is a building code,” said Kevin Klein, executive director of Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Counties and municipalities across the state already have building codes and some are written with wildfire in mind. Some wildfire-prone counties — like Summit and Boulder — have already enacted stricter wildfire-minded codes and building regulations. But there isn’t a universal framework like in other parts of the country. California, Utah, New Mexico and Washington, which are also prone to wildfire, all have a statewide minimum building code, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

A statewide building code may make new construction more costly. But after investing tens of millions of dollars on new wildfire-response initiatives, including purchasing a state-of-the-art wildfire fighting helicopter, some state lawmakers say it’s time for local governments, builders and homeowners to pitch in, too.

More Like This, Tap A Topic

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.