Log Hill Volunteer Fire Department

 

 

The national Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program rolled out in fall of 2002, with the dozen successful pilot communities in the lead.  NFPA Firewise provided training to state forestry agencies and formalized a voluntary relationship among NFPA, the USDA Forest Service, and state forestry departments to assign state Firewise Liaisons to help reach out to communities seeking to use the program template.

Today, the program has over 1000 active communities in 40 states. Each community can address their specific wildfire safety needs using the flexible template of the Firewise Communities/USA process. They work with partners including state forestry and local fire departments to organize, plan, and conduct activities each year that make a difference in their wildfire safety.

This voluntary program has documented more than $76 million dollars’ worth of local wildfire safety actions in communities since 2003.

The five steps of Firewise recognition

Many residents and organizations on Log Hill Mesa have been working hard for years to make the mesa a safer place and protect it from wildfire.  In 2012, a group of individuals came together and took steps to recognize the hard work of these residents and organizations.

Most Firewise communities are single sub-divisions which have methods of communication and home owners association structures in place.  Log Hill Mesa is described by the boundaries of the Log Hill Mesa Fire Protection District in Ouray County.  As such, it is comprised of almost 65 square miles, contains two large sub-divisions, Log Hill Village and Fairway Pines, and numerous smaller subdivisions.  It also contains large areas of ranch land and many homes situated on 40 - 80 acre parcels.  We have approximately 1500 residents in our community.  This diversity throughout the community presents the Firewise Council with many unique challenges.

In 2012, Log Hill Fire completed its district wide CWPP which provided evaluations of over 600 structures throughout the District.  This CWPP was awarded the Firewise Community Protection Achievement Award in 2012 and it became the plan used by the Firewise Council of Log Hill Mesa.  Log Hill Mesa was recognized as a Firewise Communities USA community in 2012.  Also in 2012, Log Hill Mesa was featured as a Firewise Communities USA Success Story.  A link to that article is:  http://www.firewise.org/wildfire-preparedness/be-firewise/success-stories/colorado/log-hill-mesa-colorado.aspx  That year the Firewise Council documented over $18,000 worth of volunteer hours or direct expenses on mitigation actions taken to protect the community.  This expenditure exceeds the required $2 investment required for Firewise recognition by over $10.

 

 

    2012 Emergency Preparedness Open House

 

 

 

2013 was an extremely busy year for Log Hill Mesa.  This year, we documented over $30,000 volunteer labor and direct expenditures on mitigation activities throughout the community.  This represents an expenditure of over $20 per resident.  Below is a recap of the activities from our Firewise renewal application for 2013:

Our main Firewise Day project concentrated on improving the safety of Log Hill Mesa in the event of a massive wildfire that triggers an evacuation.  We began our project working with the West Region Wildfire Council (WRWC) and Montrose BLM.  They helped us design and execute a sand table exercise replicating a wildfire and evacuation of Log Hill Mesa.  We had participants from throughout the WRWC including the BLM, Forest Service, State Foresters and Emergency Managers from Ouray and surrounding counties.  We were able to better coordinate Incident Command Structure and coordination across numerous agencies to improve our response to a major incident.  29 emergency responders attended the sand table exercise.  One week later, we followed up our sand table exercise with a Mock Evacuation Drill and Open House at our fire station.  The Mock Evacuation Drill allowed Evacuation Center Staff and volunteers from Fortuna Tierra, a local women’s club, to practice evacuee in-processing and response to simulated evacuee needs.  Approximately 30 volunteers received Target Notification System calls and were asked to report to the Evacuation Center.  The volunteer evacuees had scenarios to role-play with the evacuation center staff to better train the staff.  Concurrent with the Mock Evacuation Drill, we held an Incident Command Roundtable which allowed emergency personnel to better plan for evacuation of personnel, and large and small animals while conducting aggressive fire control measures and preparing to transfer Incident Command to higher level state and federal resources.  An open house at the fire station allowed residents to get information on conducting mitigation and grant availability.  We provided numerous Firewise and Ready Set Go! information sources to ensure residents were better prepared in the event of an emergency.  Firefighters assisted residents in looking up their property wildfire assessment and recommendations for improvements from the Community Wildfire Protection Plan.  We also assisted residents in registering their telephones in the Emergency Notification database to ensure they receive emergency and evacuation notices.  Second Chance Animal Shelter was on hand to provide low cost micro chipping of pets.  Approximately 75 residents and emergency responders attended the Open House and Evacuation Exercise.  This event received a Firewise Project Achievement Award in June 2013.  A link to a local newspaper article covering the event is:  http://www.loghillfire.org/docs/OCP_05_23_13.pdf

 

On June 3 and 4, Fairway Pines held their annual clean up and chipping day to assist residents in getting rid of slash and yard refuse thereby reducing the amount of flammable material around homes. Approximately 25 residents participated.

Fairway Pines Chipping Day

 

On June 13, 2013, we hosted the West Region Wildfire Council to a cookout and they toured recently completed mitigation projects.

 

West Region Wildfire Council tours mitigation project on Log Hill Mesa.

 

West Region Wildfire Council enjoys cookout before touring mitigation projects.

 

On August 4 and 5, representatives from the Firewise committee assisted the Colorado State Forest Service in production of a short film encouraging residents to perform mitigation and construct defensible space around their homes.  The film will be available on the CSFS website for use by all Colorado residents in 2014.

 

Colorado State Forest Service Montrose District Forester, Austin Shelby is interviewed for a series of educational videos about wildfire mitigation while standing in a recently completed shaded fuel break on Log Hill Mesa.

 

On October 3 and 4, the greater Log Hill Village area held their annual neighborhood clean up and chipping day to assist residents in getting rid of slash and yard refuse thereby reducing the amount of flammable material around homes.  Approximately 29 residents participated.

Worked with the West Region Wildfire Council and Colorado State Forest Service to receive a Colorado Department of Natural Resources grant in the amount of $63,000 to mitigate 217 acres of land throughout the mesa.  This mitigation will provide defensible space around homes, shaded fuel breaks and roadside thinning demonstration projects along two of the most heavily traveled evacuation routes in the event of a wildfire.  This is a 50/50 grant.

Approximately 90 acres of mitigation projects were completed by the end of the year.  This work has been completed with the assistance of the West Region Wildfire Council and the Colorado State Forest Service.  In November, Log Hill Fire in cooperation with the Log Hill Village Parks and Rec District completed a 20 acre mitigation project on fire department and park property which provides a shaded fuel break and greatly increases the survivability of Fire Station #2, the Dallas Creek Water Treatment Facility and numerous residences on the mesa.  The project also provides roadside thinning along one of the major evacuation routes as a demonstration project for other landowners.

 

 

 

 

    Log Hill Fire Property After Mitigation

 

 

 

 

As you can see, we have been extremely busy.  We plan to keep busy in 2014 with two scheduled Clean-up and Chipping Days, and over 120 acres of already scheduled mitigation projects.  We also plan to develop procedure to start accomplishing some of the landscape scale mitigation projects recognized on the Ouray County and Log Hill Fire CWPP's.

For more information on the activities of the Firewise Council of Log Hill Mesa, please contact us at info@loghillfire.org.

 

 

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