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Summit County Council Discuss Ways To Prepare And Prevent Wildfires

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Lisa Powell
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 The summer weather may be drawing to a close, but after a hot, dry season with wildfires plaguing the Wasatch Back, Utah and the western U.S.; Summit County officials are still trying to warn homeowners to guard against fires.

In a brief county council discussion last week, council member Doug Clyde talked about the regulations for Wildland Urban Interface areas (often called "WUI" for short.)

He said the challenge is to get uniform enforcement of the standards across a county with four or five different marshals. Clyde said he's been working with the county planning staff and attorney's office to apply the standards to new homes.

“Through our discussions with them we’ve come up with the concept that there would be a form that would be a requirement at the submission of building permit." Clyde continued, "That essentially would be signed off on by the Fire Marshall in the area. It simply is nothing more than compliance with the WUI but it also includes issues such as defensible space. This form would be an attachment to your building permit and therefore would essentially be enforceable by any and all. It would be enforceable by us it would be enforceable also by the Fire Marshall.”

He said they're working on an information sheet for homeowners.

"We’re trying to keep this short, it’s a two-page sheet." Clyde explained, "It’s going to introduce a few terms that people aren’t familiar with like fire resistance construction types 1, 2, and 3. We will put a booklet with that which will tell them what fire-resistant construction 1, 2, and 3 is. We’ll also build a nice graphic of what defensible space looks like that’ll be part of the overall process. I think that everybody’s in agreement that’s the way we’re going to go forward on this. We’re just doing some final edits and hopefully we’ll have it out. This is not adopting new law, this doesn’t require any effort on the council part this is just an administrative action.”

Clyde said some homeowners don't take the idea of defensible space seriously.

"We hear this all the time, people say ‘I don’t care if my house burns.’ Well first of all, that’s what you’re saying today bet you’re going to change your mind once it does burn down to the foundation." Clyde said, "Secondly, when your house burns most likely your neighbor’s house is going to catch on fire. It ain’t a matter of your personal choice.”

Meanwhile, council member Glenn Wright and county attorney Margaret Olson reported that they recently met with the Summit Park Home Owners Association.

Olson said the group was receptive, but they need to work on some issues in Summit Park.

"First are the egress problems and getting the egress methods fixed." Olson explained, "There’s a big rock in front of one and some are allegedly pushed through gates, but people were doubting whether in fact they were push through gates. We’re going to work on the egress and getting maps out to the community in conjunction with the home owner’s association. Then there’s all the dead free-standing tress that people need to voluntarily take down. There are some fire rights grants through the home owner’s association that aren’t all completely taken.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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