Summit County fire chiefs share info on protecting homes
Emergency workers are asking Summit County residents some hard questions.
If there were a wildfire, would you know what to do? What would you take with you if you had to evacuate your home? How long would it take?
Residents who attended the “Ready, Set, Go” workshop at Colorado Mountain College yesterday have all the information they need to answer these questions with confidence.
Breckenridge resident Ian Runge attended the meeting to learn how to protect himself, his family and his home from a wildfire.
“We live in a new subdivision with lots of trees and not very good access, so we wanted to learn what to do about that,” he said.
Runge said he was going home to take action on some of the things he learned at Saturday’s workshop, including keeping even small combustible items from within 5 feet of his home. He said he appreciated hearing the capabilities and constraints of firefighters and other emergency workers. Firefighters are often perceived as superheroes, but they are humans too, he said.
“It gave us a really realistic view of what they can and can’t do,” he said. “Everybody should have been here”.
Deputy chief Jay Nelson of Red, White and Blue Fire Rescue organized the public workshop.
“We adopted this program last year when we started seeing the extreme fire danger early in the season in May and June,” Nelson said. “It’s something we’ve decided to carry over every year to use as a public-education tool because it doesn’t have to be a wildfire; it can be any kind of disaster that we can prepare people for.”
Jody Acres, of the Red Cross, told the audience how to prepare an evacuation kit and how to evacuate pets from a home in the case of a wildfire. Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue assistant chief Jeff Berino spoke about evacuation planning.
Forest Service representative Paul Cada spoke about defensible space.
“I want you guys to go out and talk to your neighbors,” he said. “Start with your house and try to get everyone on board. There are grant funds available in the county to help you offset the financial cost, as well as expertise to come out and help you figure out exactly what you need. There are a lot of resources out there.”
Matt Benedict of the Red White and Blue Fire Protection District took participants outside, showing them the capabilities of local emergency vehicles.
Colorado State University extension agent Dan Schroder said he liked the Ready, Set Go emergency-preparedness model because it’s simple and straightforward.
“Ready” is being prepared for an emergency. In the case of a wildfire this includes ember-proofing homes and creating space between wildfire fuels and homes. “Set” is staying aware of news and information and packing items into an evacuation kit. “Go” is the process of carrying out the emergency action plan.
“We really felt like it’s something the community can remember,” Shroder said.
The Ready, Set, Go model was created by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Fire chief Nelson said the emergency-preparedness plan is something residents can pass along to neighbors, friends and loved ones.
“We are hoping that this message carries,” he said.
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