Wildfire Home Assessment Overview

Boulder Fire-Rescue (BFR)'s Wildfire Home Assessment Project aims to conduct an assessment of each home within the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) boundary of the City of Boulder.

Background

The wildfire threat to the City of Boulder has been well documented. The recent wildfires in our area underscore the need to take action by fully assessing our risk. Our curbside assessments provide valuable data to residents, homeowners and emergency responders as to the preparedness level of each home in the WUI while also helping homeowners be proactive in preparing their home for a wildfire event.

This project is intended to be among the first steps in creating a Fire Adapted Community within the City of Boulder. Creating Fire Adapted Communities is one of three tenants of the National Cohesive Strategy to prepare for wildfires. The two additional tenants are Resilient Landscapes and Enhancing Fire Response. We will be adding more information regarding these additional tenants to our webpage as soon as we are able.

Check Your Address

On the interactive map below, type in an address within the City of Boulder to see the assessment.

How Are Assessments Done?

Initial curbside assessments are conducted by uniformed BFR personnel during business hours. These assessments are completed from the viewpoint of the street, sidewalk or public property. BFR personnel will not access private property for an initial curbside assessment. These assessments are designed to capture a general impression of how well each home is prepared for a wildfire event.

The department will make notifications to homeowners before the project begins in their neighborhood. Homeowners and renters who wish to improve their rating, or anyone who wants learn more about how to better prepare their home against the threat of a wildfire, is welcome to schedule a free Detailed Wildfire Home Assessment at any time, through the link below.

Wildfire Home Assessment Curbside Glossary

Based on your curbside assessment, this is a cumulative value of the below factors that determined this “snapshot view” of your home’s potential vulnerability to a wildland fire.

Having a clearly visible address allows responders to quickly identify your property. During a large urban-interface fire scenario, addresses are often used as landmarks to allow responders to communicate locations, threats, and needs.

Fire trucks come in a lot of shapes and sizes (Type 1 being some of the largest, Type 6 resembling an oversized pickup truck, and Type 3 in between). We’ve estimated which can access your property based on one-way or dead-end road, turn around, roundabout and clearance. This isn’t something you have a lot of control over, and it doesn’t have a big impact on your overall hazard rating, but it helps us with pre-response planning.

Structures such as sheds and dog houses, for example, if not properly cared for, can potentially be a hazard to the main structure if they were to catch fire. A home well prepared for a wildland fire by itself may still be susceptible to ignition if nearby auxiliary structures were enflamed.

From our curbside view we assess structure roof type (metal, wood, asphalt, etc.), roof condition (gaps, cracks, flashing, etc.) and any accumulated debris (pine needles, dry leaves, etc.) seen on the roof as well as on or in the gutters.

Siding type is generally less important than condition, though some types of siding such as wood (or another substance that could more easily ignite) are also important to note. We look for cracks, gaps, age and rot, as those issues may allow for potential ember entrance into the siding.

Wood fences can act like a fuse if they catch fire. So, if a wood fence is directly attached to the home, this will lend to a higher probability of home ignition. Improvements we look for are metal flashing between the fence and the home, or a gate that can be opened and therefore "break" the fuse between the house and the fence.

Recent studies have shown that in many cases a home survives the initial front of flames but then ignites later on from smoldering fires that occur in mulch or vegetation right next to or nearby the home. Hardscaping this zone of 0-5 ft. from the home to ensure there are no combustible materials directly adjacent to and around the entire perimeter of the structure has proven one of the best things a homeowner can do.

Fuel loading is the amount of combustible vegetation and/or debris in the area. In wildland fire, anything that is available to burn (grass, pine needles, sticks, logs, trees, brush and sometimes structures) is considered fuel. In the urban setting, Zone 1 is often an individual’s entire property and therefore an opportunity for that property owner to decrease their fuel load.

This is similar to the previous question, but we get more specific with this section about non-landscaping type materials. We are especially lookin at items such as wooden or wicker furniture, wood piles for a fireplace or stove and anything else combustible that doesn’t fall into the “vegetation” category.

This section carries some weight toward your overall score. The answers for this section can be one of the following:

  • “Yes,” which means that if the juniper were to ignite, it would directly threaten your home.
  • “Yes, but no factor,” which means that if the juniper were to ignite it would not directly threaten your home. The juniper must be quite a long way from any structure and rather isolate for this answer.
  • “No,” meaning you don’t have any junipers.

Although popular for landscaping, Juniper is a rather fire volatile type of vegetation. It burns with very little heat exposure and can cause rather threatening flames and embers. We call it the "gasoline" of wildland fuels.

If grass is present, we assess its condition for the following:

  • Is it mowed, maintained, and irrigated? (good)
  • OR brown, crispy, and tall? (not good)

Surface fuels such as grass and other ground covers (pine needles, leaves, etc.) are big carriers of wildfire. Continuous “beds” of combustible fuel can help a fire spread rapidly.