Fourmile Fire Rapid Response

September 11, 2010

Wisdom? Common sense? Compassion? Boulder County’s regulations should be imbued with all three of these values. Time will tell. The Fourmile Fire has claimed 139 homes. The innocent victims can not be made whole, but we need not add to their pain. Many carefully followed the County’s wildfire mitigation requirements, believing it would protect their homes. Which requirements helped? Made no difference? Made matters worse? We must learn from this tragedy by studying the homes saved and lost – this wisdom has come at a high price, but our friends have already paid it.

Common sense and practicality demand that the procedures typically required to obtain a building permit to replace an existing home must quickly be adjusted. Many insurance company policies require replacement within 12 months – delays beyond that deadline can cause coverage to lapse. More homes were destroyed in two days than have been processed, inspected and approved by Boulder County in the past two years. New homes proposed to replace the old ones that are approximately the same size and are more energy efficient and fire resistant than their predecessors should be fast-tracked.

Architects, contractors, banks and other consultants will soon be in great demand. In today’s moribund construction market, bargains can and must be found. Compassion requires that the development community work together with Boulder County to minimize costs and delays in providing what the victims need to return home sooner than later. We deserve to be judged by the quality of our response.

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