Fire Officials Ask Homeowners To Build ‘Defensible Space’

Jul 9, 2019, 5:31 PM | Updated: 7:45 pm

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah – There’s a reason why Summit Park keeps growing.

Mike Quinones has lived in this small Summit County community for 22 years and still smiles every time he walks out his front door.

It’s isolated. Mountain living. The temperature is really good all year round,” said Quinones while looking around his property. “It’s kind of like its own little bastion of wilderness that we have up here.”

For all the positives about living at the top of Parley’s Canyon, though, Quinones also sees things many others don’t.

“There’s certainly a risk, certainly followed by a great threat that we have up here,” he said.

Quinones is talking about the risk of wildfire.

He’s a retired firefighter and knows all the trees close to homes could be catastrophic if a large wildfire started burning here.

That’s why he has been stressing defensible space for years.

“All it takes is a little bit of work on everyone’s part, in the grand scheme of things, to actually help out,” he said while looking at some of the homes in his neighborhood.

He’s talking about things such as clearing debris and vegetation around homes, using non-combustible materials if possible, and removing wooden rooves in favor of metal to prevent embers from sparking more fires.

Rocks around home

“Basically, cut within 50 feet of the house,” said Quinones.

He feels that empty space will make it tougher for an approaching wildfire to advance and easier for firefighters to defend.

“Taking care of a little bit of maintenance up and against your home that really make a big difference,” he said.

Of course, Quinones knows people move to Summit Park to live among the trees and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Summit County view

Not everyone is in favor of cutting down trees.

However, for all their work that has been done, Summit Park has been recognized as a Site of Excellence by the National Fire Protection Association.

The community has also been chosen as one of seven communities nationwide to take part in a test program to see how well these types of defensible measures can be implemented.

“It’s a grassroots effort at a homeowner level to excite and motivate folks to do their little part in the national problem that we have,” said Quinones.

Creating defensible space can be a big, daunting task, but Quinones says it can’t be done all at once.

He says just do a little bit at a time and has been working on it for his own property for 20 years.

If you’re not sure what to do for your own home, you can always contact your local fire department and ask for a site assessment.

They’re free and can give you good advice.

“You can’t prevent a wildfire,” he said, “But you can certainly modify the results.”

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Fire Officials Ask Homeowners To Build ‘Defensible Space’