We have partnered with WiRē (Wildfire Research Center) to learn more about local attitudes, understandings and needs as they relate to wildfire vulnerability.

After a handful of discussions, all the pieces have fit into the puzzle and the result is that we should be able to gain some valuable insight into the hearts and minds of our residents here in Routt County.  The WiRē process pairs social data from residents living in the wildland urban interface with parcel level wildfire risk data. Using this community specific data, the WiRē team will work with us to understand how programs can be tailored to effectively move local residents to take action to reduce wildfire risk.

At the core of of the WiRē approach are two data collection efforts:

  1. A rapid wildfire risk assessment based on attributes related to building materials, vegetation near the home, background fuels and topography, as well as access for the fire department to the parcel. The rapid assessment serves as an indicator of relative risk of parcels within a community rather than an absolute measure of risk.
  2. Social surveys of the residents of the assessed parcels to investigate homeowners’ perceptions of wildfire risk, risk mitigation behaviors, and responses to incentives to mitigate risk.

Training was conducted in September for a dozen volunteers and agency representatives so that we can effectively conduct Rapid Assessments on approximately 2,200 homes throughout the County.

A series of neighborhoods were selected for the study.  Some criteria have been established by WiRē based on the results of previous studies that will drive greater participation and results.  And it was important for us to reach into neighborhoods throughout the County so that we can better understand the regional differences in perception and need.  

The resulting study areas we have identified are:

  • South Routt / Stagecoach 
  • North Routt / Willow Creek Pass & Hahns Peak Village 
  • West Steamboat / Heritage Park, Steamboat II & Silver Spur 

Our hope is to have this study wrapped up and action underway by December 2024.


The data from this effort will be used to help the emergency responders know how they can best support properties in being ready for wildfire as desired by the property owner.  This allows your local fire department to utilize resources most effectively. For example, if we see that most homeowners have poor defensible space around their homes, your local mitigation programming can work on ways to better support homeowners in improving their defensible space. This data will not be used to force anyone to take any action.

  • This rapid assessment will collect the following information:
  • Roof materials (combustible or non-combustible?)
  • Siding materials (combustible or non-combustible?)
  • Combustible attachments (present or not present?)
  • Distance to adjacent homes (e.g., more than 30’ away from another home or closer?)
  • Distance to other combustibles (how far away are other combustibles like wood piles from the house?)
  • Distance to overgrown vegetation (how far away are highly flammable plants from the house?)
  • Distance to dangerous topography (how far from the house is there terrain that increases fire behavior?)
  • Slope (how steep is the slope that the house sits on?)
  • Adjacent fuels (are the fuels next to the home very dense and connected, or spread out?)
  • Address posting (does the address sign meet local standards for visibility by firefighters during an emergency?)
  • Ingress/egress (is there more than one way in/out?)
  • Driveway length (can a fire truck access this property during a fire as safely as possible?)
  • Driveway clearance (can a fire truck access this property during a fire as safely as possible?)

No. See above – “How will the wildfire risk assessments be used?” For example, this project will not identify or require trees near homes to be cut down. Data collected for this project will not be used to force any action, nor is the information we are collecting even detailed enough to entertain such a notion. It will only speak to the presence or absence of certain risk factors so that results can better identify and support mitigation efforts on private land.

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