Utah County Approves Wildfire Protection Plan and WUI Map

In December of 2009 Utah County became the first county in the state to complete the

process of approving a County Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) and at the same time

updated their Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) designation map.

The purpose of these plans is to increase fire fighter and public safety by identifying

hazardous conditions and a plan of action to mitigate them. This CWPP builds on the Northern Utah Regional WPP which is one of the seven regional plans done to cover the state. The county plan was done for a duel purpose. First to address the situation in Utah County and secondly to provide a template and consolidated source of reference materials for any community that has a need to write their own plan.

The CWPP has three requirements:
1) Collaboration: between the affected agencies and parties.
2) Prioritize Fuel Reduction: Identify and prioritize treatment areas and methods.
3) Treatment of Structural Ignitability: Adoption of appropriate fire codes and Home Owner Association (HOA) building materials guidelines.
In Utah County the Collaboration was between the major land holders, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the State, they administer 55% of the area. The county represented the remaining unincorporated portion. Everyone that is affected by the plan should have the opportunity to give input. The Federal and State agencies can provide invaluable guidance and technical expertise. Working closely with the local Fire Department provides them with information they need to further develop a pre-attack plan for your community, and appropriate fire prevention emphases.
Our Fuels Reduction plan for unincorporated private land focuses on fire hazard identification in developed areas, the wildland urban interface. In smaller developments each home will be assessed and a community assessment done. In larger areas just the community assessment will be done, and individual homes evaluated by request of the home owner. Initially our fuels reduction work is geared to demonstration home sites and assisting homeowners with special needs. Our emphasis will be on educating home owners through their HOA’s on defensible / survivable space. So they can identify fuels treatment, reduction, or replacement needed to protect their homes. At this time larger projects require additional funding sources. Having a CWPP developed with your Federal neighbors helps them with funding project on their side of the fence, but the plan does not bind them to any monetary commitment.
We addressed Structural Ignitability through adoption of fire codes and special WUI fire codes. This is where the WUI map is important in designating areas that require special consideration.

Federal guidelines and definitions are purposely broad to allow the community flexibility in defining their WUI areas. The most basic definition is “where human development meets wildland vegetation”. Special protection may be needed due to longer response time for fire resources, lack of a reliable and close water supply, steep slopes, a build up of wildland vegetation, or what ever your criteria may be. Addressing these special hazards drive the action plan in the CWPP. Your plan can be as simple or as complex as needed to identify your situation and a plan to increase, as much as is reasonably possible, the chances of you and your home and your community withstanding a wildfire.

This is what we learned along the way. Putting a plan together is very time consuming. We hope the research and consolidation we did will save you some time. You need people who are dedicated to the project and those with writing and computer skill, and at least basic GIS ability is very helpful. Get all the share holders seriously involved and use their expertise. Lastly set a target date to have it finished. You can work forever perfecting the plan and covering every contingency. Get it in place and then modify and expand it as you are acting on your objectives.

This CWPP and WUI map can be found on the Utah County web site under Departments, Community Development, Fire Marshal’s page. (http://www.utahcountyonline.org/Dept...shal/index.asp)

If we can help you with your CWPP or WUI area designation please call Delbert Jay at 801-851- 4137, or contact your County Fire Warden.