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“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says, ‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
– Toni Sorenson  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

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  Mill levy and fire protection
  By Robin Widmar

   Town hall meetings
   The Falcon Fire Protection District will be hosting a series of “town hall” style meetings in May. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss whether citizens would support a proposed mill levy increase to fund an in-district ambulance service and address other district operational needs.
   
   All residents of the fire district are encouraged to attend these public meetings to learn more about how the district operates and why it is considering a mill levy increase.
   
   Meetings will be held at FFPD Fire Station 3 at 7030 Old Meridian Road in Falcon (at the corner of Old Meridian Road and U.S. Highway 24). Dates and times:
   
   May 2 at 6 p.m.
   May 19 at 10 a.m.
   May 31 at 6 p.m.

   
   Reminders and any updates will be posted to the district’s website and social media platforms.
   
   Wildfire Community Preparedness Day
   Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is May 5, and it is a good time for families and communities to come together to make their homes and neighborhoods safer from wildfires.
   
   As witnessed during recent wildfires in El Paso County, there are times when hot, fast-moving wildfires result in structures being lost; despite firefighter efforts. But preparing homes and properties for wildfires gives firefighters a chance to successfully defend them. Creating defensible space and mitigating fire risks are key elements for structure survivability in both forested areas and prairie grasslands.
   
   Here are some simple projects to start with:
  • Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3-to-5 feet of a home’s foundation, and up to a 30-foot distance around the structure.
  • Move wood piles at least 30 feet away from structures and wooden fences.
  • Clear roofs, gutters, porches and decks of dead leaves, pine needles and other debris.
  • Rake under decks, porches, sheds, play structures and stationary propane tanks to clear them of debris and dead vegetation.
  • Mow grasses to a height of 4 inches or less.
  • Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate them to a storage shed, garage or basement, if possible.
  • Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should be located away from the home, and never stored indoors.

   For more project ideas, go to http://wildfireprepday.org and click on “Wildfire Community Preparedness Day” on the left side of the page.
   
   Additional information about wildfire mitigation can be found at
   National Fire Protection Association Firewise USA™ program: https://nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire/Firewise-USA 
   Colorado State Forest Service: https://csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation/
   
   Fire restrictions and red flag warnings
   Multiple red flag warnings have been issued for all or part of El Paso County so far in 2018. Additionally, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions for unincorporated areas of El Paso County March 16; upgraded to Stage 2 restrictions April 17; and returned to Stage 1 fire restrictions April 23. Last year’s grasses are dried; brush and trees have lost significant moisture content during the extremely dry winter. It will take more than a storm or two to rehydrate the dry vegetation.
   
   Here is a brief overview of fire restrictions and red flag warnings.
   
   Stage 1 and 2 fire restrictions are enacted and lifted by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office based on current and predicted environmental conditions. There is no set “expiration” date or time. A list of prohibited activities under these restrictions can be found on the FFPD website.
   
   Red flag warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when outdoor conditions (low relative humidity, increased winds, warm temperatures, etc.) meet, or are predicted to meet, certain criteria for elevated fire danger. Both the Highway 24 fire in Falcon April 2 and the Mile Marker 117 fire in Hanover April 17 occurred on red flag days. Red flag warnings are typically issued for specific dates and times.
   
   The Falcon Fire Protection District does not issue, suspend or lift county-wide Stage 1 or 2 fire restrictions or issue red flag warnings.
   
   
Stay connected with the FFPD

   Website: http://falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
   
  
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  Safety Tip
  Campfire safety — and revised Colorado law
  By Robin Widmar

   For many people, the long Memorial Day weekend signals the onset of summer activities such as camping. Considering the ongoing drought conditions in many areas of the state, campers should know how to properly attend and extinguish campfires –- and understand the consequences if they do not.
   
   According to statistics from the U.S. Department of the Interior website, research indicates that 90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans. The National Interagency Fire Center website shows that humans caused an average of 61,952 fires each year between 2001 and 2017. Human-caused fires burned an average of more than 2.7 million acres annually during that time.
   
   One way that humans start wildfires is by leaving a campfire unattended or not thoroughly extinguishing it. In 2016, an improperly extinguished campfire on private property ignited the Cold Springs Fire near Nederland in Boulder County. That fire burned 528 acres, destroyed eight homes and forced the evacuation of more than 1,900 residents.
   
   On March 22, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 1051, which increases penalties for failing to attend a campfire or not properly extinguishing it. The bill, which takes effect July 1 received bipartisan support. Under HB 1051, any person who “knowingly or recklessly” leaves a campfire unattended or fails to fully extinguish it in a forested or grasslands area commits a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $750 and/or up to six months imprisonment.
   
   Here are tips to ensure a campfire is fully extinguished:
  • Allow wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.
  • Pour water on the fire to drown all embers, and keep doing so until the hissing sound stops.
  • Stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel.
  • Use a shovel to scrape any remaining embers from sticks and logs and soak them.
  • If water is not available, mix sand or wet dirt into the embers.
  • Make sure everything is cold to the touch. Remember: If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.

   To learn about fire restrictions and bans across the state, go to: https://colorado.gov/pacific/dfpc/fire-bans-and-restrictions
  
 
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