Greg Griswould started his new job last week as Oak Creek Fire Protection District’s mitigation crew supervisor. The new position is being paid for with grant money.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Greg Griswould started his new job last week as Oak Creek Fire Protection District’s mitigation crew supervisor. The new position is being paid for with grant money.

Fire manager to provide mitigation in Stagecoach

Free services to include tree removal, education for homeowners

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Chuck Wisecup/Courtesy

Oak Creek Fire Protection District Capt. Jeff Buffetti tends to a controlled burn during training April 28 in Oak Creek. The fire department has received $124,000 in grants for fire mitigation.

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For more information or to sign up for the free fire mitigation in Stagecoach, call 970-736-8104 or visit www.oakcreekfire.org.

— The tinder surrounding Stage­coach is alarming to Greg Gris­would.

Starting as the fire mitigation crew supervisor with the Oak Creek Fire Protection Dis­trict, one of his first tasks was to survey the beetle-killed pine that surrounds the Stage­coach area. From there, Gris­would and a fire mitigation team will offer free services to Stagecoach residents with the goal of creating “defensible space” around each home.

That’s important, he said, because if a fire catches in the canopy of the forest, the results could be dire.

“The canopy is so tight, and if fire ever goes into the canopy of these trees, it would be a catastrophic fire,” Griswould said.

The project, funded by $124,000 in grants and $5,000 from the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, will start lining up projects in May and will start removing the fire fuel — grass, bushes and trees — in June.

Griswould said he would work with the Stagecoach Home­owners Association and, if not enough people sign up after reading about the project in the HOA newsletter, he would go door-to-door to ask residents whether they would like the free help. The crews primarily will focus first on the areas directly around the homes. That means clearing out trees that could be leaning against eaves, clearing out brush near propane tanks and advising residents about other potential hazards.

If residents have open eaves or shake roofs, Chuck Wisecup, chief of the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, said the education would include how to best protect the houses, including how to close up any vulnerabilities on the houses.

At the same time, not all homeowners will want all of their services, Griswould said. He and Wisecup acknowledged that some homeowners are reluctant to have trees near their homes cut down, even if it is a fire hazard. Because of that, the crews will work with each property owner before the work is done.

The teams could potentially work on more than 300 properties, Wisecup said, giving them enough work to renew the grant for several years.

After the crews finish with homes where the property owners have requested help, the crews will go on to tree-lined roads to provide enough space to create a fire-stop. They also will work with absentee property owners, or owners of undeveloped property, to ensure that those areas do not become fire hazards.

For more information or to request the fire mitigation services, call 970-736-8104 or visit www.oakcreekfire.org.

Comments

userfg 4 years, 3 months ago

There are already several companies in the county that do this work for a living. Why is a government entity in direct competion with them using tax dollars to undercut them in price?

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Duke_bets 4 years, 3 months ago

userfg - Do those companies put out the fires? Who are all of those companies by the way?

The Oak Creek Fire District services that area, so it is in their best interest to maintain that area.

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Chuck Wisecup 4 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Duke, it is not only in the best interest of the District, but it is in the best interest of our citizens. This grant hired 3 additional personnel for the summer that will also be available to help my mostly volunteer department fight wildland fires in our District as well as the rest of Routt County. Prevention and Education are a primary responsibility of an emergency services agency. The bulk of the Grant match is a "soft" match of the existing wildland engines and equipment the Fire district already owns. The end result will provide safely defensible homes, safe ingress and egress routes for the citizens and fire and emergency personnel, an emergency pre-plan for individual homes, subdivisions and the bulk of the stagecoach area in case of a catastrophic wildland fire event. If you ask me this is a pretty good return for the $5000.00 - $10,000.00 "Taxpayer Bucks" which are the Districts "Hard Match"

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