Monday, December 13, 2004
The Steamboat Springs City Council will get a look at the interactive capabilities of the Wildland Fire Hazard Mapping Project at tonight's meeting.
With the help of a federal grant, the mapping project links public information with a Geographic Information System to assign a wildfire rating to almost 6,000 homes in the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District. The mapped area would cover 378 square miles.
The mapping project, which can be accessed on the city's Web site, allows residents to find their home's FireWise rating. The Web site also allows residents to calculate their ratings through a series of questions. Residents can create various scenarios to see how each home's fire rating would alter with changes to their homes.
The rates range from a low hazard to extreme hazard and are based on the National Fire Protection Association's Standard for Protection of Life and Property from Wildfire.
City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said the amount of information residents can access online and through the city's mapping program is more than any other community Steamboat's size.
"We think the FireWise project maybe a model," DuBord said.
More than a year ago, the city was awarded an $116,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Part of the money was earmarked for the fire department to update its maps of where structures are in the city limits and Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District.
The second part of the project surveyed 200 structures in two heavily wooded neighborhoods that have the potential of coming into contact with a wildland fire.
These two areas -- Steamboat Pines and the upper part of Burgess Creek Road -- have a higher level of detail than the rest of the residences in the database.
The preliminary ratings assigned to the rest of the homes were limited because of outdated data on vegetation and a lack of detailed fuel models. Through the FEMA grant, the homes in the two high risk areas were given more in-depth assessments, a protection plan was created, and neighborhood workshops were hosted on fire behavior, defensible space, hazard map clarification and vegetation suggestions.
DuBord said this was the first phase in the project and more work is scheduled. The GIS department is working with Fire Prevention to try to get mobile computers with GIS software into emergency response vehicles. The equipment would allow EMS crews to search for an address and obtain information en route to a call to locate propane shut-off valves and access points.
The city also is applying the project to other areas in the city. The city just released a Web site that allows a user to search for any address in the city and zoom into that location. The user can search and identify the property by subdivisions and zoning. The city also can link properties to floodplain and the Local Marketing District boundaries.