Learning from loss: FAC Coalition members conduct post-wildfire assessment

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Jul 26, 2012

IBHS posted a blog on a recent FAC Coalition post-wildfire assessment done in Colorado, and we thought our readers would be interested in the news as well, so we have shared the post below.  

Recently, FAC assessmentIBHS researchers and representatives from NFPA's Firewise Program, International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the USDA Forest Service spent three days assessing homes affected by wildfire in the Colorado Springs area. This important research will help reinforce best practices for protecting homes against future fires and will provide additional insight into the importance of protecting homes against wind-blown embers.

This cooperative effort was initiated by the Forest Service as part of the Fire Adapted Communities Coalition, of which IBHS, NFPA and IAFC are members. The researchers examined a representative sample of about 35 homes, located in the Mountain Shadows and Cedar Heights communities that were hard hit by the recent wildfires. Nearly 350 homes were destroyed. The weeks after a wildfire strikes offer a limited window for researchers to examine what is left of homes that were burned and to examine the features that may have allowed other homes to survive the fire.

As is often the case after a disaster, the Mountain Shadows community remains off limits to the general public due to the widespread damage. The research team was able to gain access through escorts from the Division of the Fire Marshal within the Colorado Springs Fire Department under the guidance of Fire Marshal Brett Lacey, Wildfire Mitigation Program Coordinator Andrew Notbohm and Wildfire Mitigation Section Manager Christina Randall.

Researchers used an assessment form originally developed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), which was modified by IBHS for the purposes of this field assessment.

IBHS Senior Scientist Dr. Steve Quarles, who along with Senior Engineering Manager Rem Brown P.E.,  participated in the research, explained the goal of the field work was to examine situations where fires spread from home to home and those where homes were ignited directly by the wildland fire.

Continue reading about the team's findings following their assessment