The Gateway-Unaweep Fire Department encourages our community to get involved in the Firewise program. This program is aimed at making homes and farms defensible during a wildfire situation. To participate, homeowners can ensure that:
- Growth has been cut back and away from the home
- The home has a fire resistant deck and roof
- The access route is easy in/easy out and is clear of flammable growth
- There are no overhanging trees that can catch on fire
- Fire wood is not stacked near the home
The Fire Wise program is aimed at wildfire scenarios where firefighters from Gateway-Unaweep Fire Department, BLM or out of state fire teams would be dispatched in an attempt to save property. The posted sign directs these teams to a fire-fighting mission that is reasonable and should NOT result in a fiery death trap for those trying to defend the home. Oftentimes, in these sorts of fire situations, out-of-town fire fighting teams who do not know the terrain or the homes will be directed to find these signs and set up a defense line between the fire and the home. These wildfire events are chaotic, dangerous and confusing, so a universal sign helps keep things safe and organized for the fire fighting teams.
Call the GUFD for more information and we will gladly make an inspection to see if you are eligible. If you have met the requirements, you get a sign.
Please note that GUFD has recently toured the entire distance of our section of Highway 141 accompanied by the BLM and Colorado State Forest Service, with a critical eye towards wildfire dangers. The upper Unaweep area (from Moore's Mining through Cactus Park) is one of the most volatile populated areas in our community. This is particularly evident with the vegetation growth along the north side of the highway between mile marker 130 and mile marker 138. The pinion stands in these areas are very thick and overgrown. Residents in this area are encouraged to cut back and trim as much as they can.
December through April is a good time to start as this is a HUGE, physical project and the weather is cool. This could, in fact, take some land owners years to complete. But, every journey begins with a single step.
Remember too: if you DON'T become proactive in this type of program, a wildfire will probably leave your property looking like a moonscape. If you DO become proactive, some of your views may look a little barren but your home has a better chance of wildfire survival AND, when the fire is gone, you will likely still have green trees to look at (instead of black stumps).
NOTE: If you choose to burn the cut boughs and cut trees from this thinning project, do so on a day that is wet with snow, calm from wind and in an area that is hundreds of feet from other fuels (trees, sage, etc). Keep the fire small and controllable. Remember Unaweep Residents and Cactus Park: in the winter, GUFD does NOT keep a fire truck in the neighborhood. We don't have a heated building to store water trucks "up there". The closest fire truck to you during the freezing months is in Gateway (in the summer a truck is parked near mile marker 125 at a volunteer's house). Don't take chances with fire even in the winter!!! It would be a shame if you burned down the Unaweep in an attempt to not burn down the Unaweep. Hmmm.
Visit Firewise.org for more information about maintaining a defesable space around your home to help protect against wildfire.