FireWise of Southwest Colorado inspires, motivates, educates and serves individuals, organizations and communities joining together to protect lives and property from wildfire.
The FireWise Council meets on the 3rd Tuesday every other month beginning in January. Meetings are held at the San Juan Public Lands Center (FS/BLM Office), 15 Burnett Court, Durango from 4:30 – 7:00 PM. A light dinner is served.
Wildfires have always occurred throughout Colorado but since the mid-1990’s the fires have become more intense and the fire season has been getting longer and longer. Southwest Colorado began an interagency effort to improve readiness and response to wildfires with the release of Community Wildfire Plans for the five-county region in May 2002. Then the unthinkable happened. On June 9, 2002, around 1:30 p.m. a small fire started part way up the Missionary Ridge Road, just north of Durango. By nightfall, the fire had burned close to 10,000 acres. And the fire continued to burn for another six weeks before being contained, and by then it had burned more than 70,000 acres and destroyed 56 homes and outbuildings.
In 2003, Durango Fire & Rescue Authority hosted a national Firewise workshop which over 100 residents attended, and out of that workshop, FireWise of Southwest Colorado was born. We are a grass-roots organization dedicated to helping homeowners understand their wildfire risk and what they can do to mitigate that risk.
Today, FireWise has part-time coordinators in La Plata, Montezuma, and Archuleta Counties and more than 158 Neighborhood Ambassadors who are the backbone of our organization. We work closely with a variety of partners including the Colorado State Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Offices of Emergency Management, and local Fire Protection Districts. We operate under the 501c3 status of the San Juan Mountains Association which serves as our fiscal agent.