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CSFD continues public fire code meetings

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Oct 09 2012 01:37:41 AM CDT

Officials propose changes in aftermath of Waldo Canyon fire.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The Colorado Springs Fire Department continues to hold public meetings informing homeowners about possible changes in the city's fire code.

The latest meeting was held Monday night at Woodmen Valley Chapel and only a few homeowners attended.  However, officials said it was the sixth meeting to be held, and many homeowners likely have the information they need by now.

The city is proposing code changes that would require certain fireproof or fire-resistant building materials in new construction or rebuilt homes damaged by fire, and located in so-called "hillside" areas or neighborhoods with an enhanced wildfire risk. 

Such hillside areas are similar in terrain to the Mountain Shadows area that was heavily damaged in this summer's Waldo Canyon wildfire.  While the urban interface west of Interstate 25 is often considered most prone to wildfires, officials said other areas to the east, such as Palmer Park and Pulpit Rock, also are vulnerable.

Officials said existing homes are not included in the proposed code changes because rebuilding would be expensive and may not be covered by insurance.  However, officials said those homeowners eventually may want consider rebuilding on their own, because their homes are older and contain materials that can easily burn in a fire.

City Fire Marshal Brett Lacey said he wants homes to be protected from the burning embers that ignited many fires during Waldo Canyon. 

Lacey also emphasized the need for homeowners to create defensible space around their property by clearing trees, brush and other vegetation at least 15 feet from a home.

Homes that had defensible space and fire-resistant materials generally endured the fire, said Lacey.

Chris Baum, a homeowner in the Bear Creek area south of Mountain Shadows, said he attended Monday's meeting to learn about the proposed code changes and how they might affect him.

"I wanted to see if any of it seemed unreasonable," said Baum.  "None of it did.  Most of it seemed to be very common sense-oriented." 

Another public meeting is scheduled Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Falcon substation of the Colorado Springs Police Department, 7850 Goddard Street.

Lacey said the City Council could vote on the proposed code changes as soon as next month.

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