Vail fire chief presents 'white paper' on wildfire risks for homeowners

By Real Vail
July 17, 2013
Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller Tuesday presented a wildfire assessment at the request of the Vail Town Council following a suggestion by the Vail Homeowners Association.

The 27-page “white paper” addresses the collaborative actions the town has previously taken to help protect the community, including the removal of 12,500 hazardous trees in and around Vail, as well as an assessment of neighborhoods most at risk for wildfire.

Chief Miller presented a summary of the report to the Vail Town Council Tuesday afternoon during the July 16 work session.

According to the report, next steps include development of a comprehensive “triage map” for Vail, which will identify specific homes that are classified in one of three categories: 1) defendable; 2) questionable; or 3) non-defendable. The map is to be completed by fall.

According to Miller’s assessment, most of Vail lies within the high risk category for wildfire. He writes, “the triage map may provide to be one of the most realistic and helpful indicators for homeowners in identifying specific properties in Vail that are in the most difficult to defend category (red/yellow) versus those that are easier to defend due to defensible space, good access and favorable geographic considerations (yellow/green.)

It is imperative that those who own properties in the red or yellow categories understand the associated risks and take necessary actions in regards to wildfire mitigation, and the protection of life and property.” His report concludes, “Simply stated, it is imperative that we adopt a ‘community’ approach to wildfire mitigation.”

Chief Miller also suggests initiating a policy discussion with the Town Council regarding potential mandates for homeowners as it relates to defensible space, such as a mandate requiring wood shake shingle roofs and other combustible roof materials to be replaced within a realistic time frame.

For additional details, contact Chief Miller at 477-3474 or email

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