Wildfire Awareness Month reminds Coloradans to prepare for wildfire


Colorado observes Wildfire Awareness Month each May to encourage residents to better prepare their homes, property and communities for wildfire. 

With nearly half of all Coloradans living in the wildland-urban interface and being susceptible to wildfire, it’s important for people to take action to reduce their wildfire risk and create more fire-adapted communities. 

Ongoing drought in parts of Colorado, powerful winds and large swaths of forests affected by forest pests and diseases increase the potential for large, uncharacteristic wildfire, so living with the potential for wildfire is the reality across the state. 

Now in its second year, the Live Wildfire Ready campaign is funded by the state of Colorado through Senate Bill 22-007 and developed by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC), USDA Forest Service (USFS) and Colorado State Fire Chiefs (CSFC).

“We are in an era of megafires, and Coloradans must live wildfire ready, especially those people who live in and around natural vegetation and are most at risk of wildfire,” said Matt McCombs, state forester and director of the CSFS. “The Live Wildfire Ready campaign empowers these residents to protect their lives, homes and property through practical, low-cost actions that lower the chances their home ignites during a fire. It’s only a matter of time before another destructive wildfire impacts our state, so I encourage everyone to do their part to prepare themselves and their communities for fire during Wildfire Awareness Month in May and throughout the year.”

Practical actions to
reduce wildfire risk

Coloradans can take simple, practical, relatively low-cost actions to prepare their homes and property for wildfire. 

These actions include the following:

• Regularly clear leaves, pine needles and other debris from your deck, roof and gutters.

• Rake and remove pine needles and leaves 5 feet from your home.

• Store firewood at least 30 feet from your home, preferably uphill, and never on or under your deck.

• Move items under your deck or porch to a storage area.

• Prune branches hanging over your roof and within 10 feet of your chimney.

• Remove flammable material within 6 vertical inches of your home’s siding.

• Mow grasses to 4 inches or less within 30 feet of your home.

• Clear brush, shrubs and other plants within 10 feet of propane tanks and gas meters.

• Screen attic, roof, eaves and foundation vents and wall-in areas below decks and stilt foundations with 1/8-inch metal mesh.

“During this Wildfire Awareness Month, we’d like to remind everyone that mitigation is essential, and as individuals we must all do our part. Please make time to focus on prevention and preparedness at your own home and in your community,” said CSFC President Kristy Olme.

In addition to preparing one’s home, living wildfire ready means being ready to evacuate during a wildfire:

• Make an evacuation plan with Ready, Set, Go! for people and pets.

• Prepare a go-bag and disaster supplies kit with Ready, Set, Go!

• Sign up for emergency notifications from your local office of emergency management.

• Ensure home address signs are visible from the street.

• Identify at least two ways out of your neighborhood and a safe place for you to go.

• Practice evacuating your home with your family and pets.

• Create a family emergency communication plan.

Ready, Set, Go! is available at https://csfs.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Ready-Set-Go-Wildland-Fire-Action-Plan-Pages-8-11.pdf.

“We must work together with our communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of wildfire in our communities,” said USDA Forest Service Regional Forester Frank Beum. “The work we all do ahead of a wildfire incident will assist our resources in being successful when an incident occurs.”

Wildfire outlook

The DFPC presented the 2024 Wildfire Preparedness Plan to Gov. Jared Polis April 17; the plan includes information on the wildfire outlook and the state’s plan for responding to wildfires in 2024.

“Even in an average year, Colorado can experience over 5,500 wildland fires burning over 220,000 acres,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan. “DFPC continues to expand our response capabilities to meet all fire-related needs year-round by focusing on early detection and rapid initial attack to limit duration, impacts, and costs where fire is unwanted.”

Campaign for Colorado

Wildland fire management in Colorado is an interagency partnership among local, state and federal agencies, so Live Wildfire Ready reflects that dynamic through its development by the CSFS, DFPC, USFS and CSFC. 

By working together on efforts, including this campaign, the goals of these entities are resilient, fire-adapted landscapes and communities that best provide for firefighter and public safety and protection of natural resources.

For more about the campaign, visit LiveWildfireReady.org.