Colorado may force new homes in wildfire-prone areas to adhere to a state building code |

Colorado may force new homes in wildfire-prone areas to adhere to a state building code

A forthcoming bill would create a new board with powers to tell local governments how houses must be built in the wildland-urban interface

Michael Booth
The Colorado Sun
A home missing due to the Marshall Fire inside Old Town Superior, Dec. 14, 2022.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

Fire chiefs fearing disaster from wildfires where open space meets urban areas are joining lawmakers to push for a statewide board with power to define so-called wildland-urban interface danger zones and impose preventive building codes on local governments. 

A bill for the mandatory codes board is set to be introduced this week by Sen. Lisa Cutter, a Littleton Democrat, but is already raising opposition from local-control advocates who are battling potential statewide impositions on multiple fronts, including affordable housing. Democratic supporters abandoned a similar idea introduced late in the 2022 legislative session after Republican opponents to the policy threatened to block other measures in protest. 

Fire officials from Colorado Springs to Fairplay are lobbying hard for the uniform codes, citing the 2021 Marshall fire in Boulder County, the East Troublesome fire that swept through Grand County in 2020, and the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs as dire wake-up calls to fast-growing communities on the edge of wildfire-prone landscape. 

“Fires aren’t jurisdictional. They cross borders,” said Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal, who is also an officer in the Colorado State Fire Chiefs. 

Recent wildfires destroying hundreds of homes in suburban and exurban areas of Colorado have spread through embers blowing off wooden shake roofs, or down into excessive roof venting, Royal said. Uniform preventive building codes could outlaw shake roofs and limit vents, protecting firefighters, residents and property from blazes that explode on high winds.

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