HomeHome InsuranceHow one Colorado community mitigates fire risk while reducing home insurance premiums

How one Colorado community mitigates fire risk while reducing home insurance premiums

In a post-Marshall Fire Colorado, even suburban communities are hyper-aware of fire risk and the increased insurance costs that come with it.

But as Douglas County grows, new communities are being designed with fire risk in mind.

“We used to have a fire season, and now really it’s wildfire season all the time,” said Jessica Towles, Director of Community Experience for Sterling Ranch.

In its short five years, new master-planned community Sterling Ranch hasn’t seen a major fire, but they’re not getting complacent.

“It really is a year-round process to ensure that our residents are safe,” said Towles.

The community sits in northwest Douglas County and is surrounded by prairie.

“When you look at Douglas County’s wildfire overlay map, you see a lot of orange and red around Sterling Ranch, and then you see this island of safety because of the protocols we’ve put into the building process,” said Towles.

But Towles says the community was designed to mitigate fire risk, from requiring fire-resistant materials in homebuilding to prioritizing native plants and defensible space in landscaping guidelines.

“So you’ve got that protective zone which we want to be at least 10 feet away from the house,” said Towles, indicating the space between a nearby home and any foliage, “They don’t build wooden decks, they use Trex which isn’t going to be a matchstick in the backyard,” said Towles.

Sterling Ranch has partnered with Douglas County Emergency Management, South Metro Fire, and consultants in designing its prairie management plan. They take steps to reduce fuels year-round.

“We are mowing those areas down a couple of times a year. We’re mowing what we call beauty bands on either side of trails in order to create firebreaks,” said Towles.

That also includes allowing cattle to graze in open spaces.



Firebreaks and evacuation routes are built into the community while Douglas County’s fire suppression helicopter is stored nearby in the summer months.

The community educates homeowners on how they can create defensible space and xeriscape their own yards.

Towles says all these steps have earned the community the best possible “Public Protection Classification” from the Insurance Services Office.

That rating is considered by insurers to determine premiums.

“We are well-protected here in our community, and that translates to people’s pocketbooks when they’re looking at their homeowners’ insurance,” said Towles.

Wherever you live, you can take steps to mitigate the fire risk to your home like xeriscaping your yard or contacting your local fire department about a fire mitigation plan.

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