When building or living in a rural community like Routt County, there are a few unique issues residents need to be aware of. Some matters that need to be addressed are accessibility, limited water, preparedness, and wildfires.
Unlike urban areas that have fire and ambulance service within a short distance of the population, emergency services in Routt County can be as many as 20 miles away from your residence. The most important assistance you can give emergency crews is to make sure your residence is clearly marked with the correct address number and that it is visible from the main road.
Another important detail is to construct your driveway so a large fire truck or ambulance can gain access under all weather conditions. Contact your local fire protection district office for specifications on road dimensions, grades, turning radius, etc. Not only is it important to have a way in, but a second method of escape is recommended for residents and emergency personnel. Remember, this access needs to be maintained year-round in all types of weather. The bottom line—if emergency crews cannot reach you, they cannot help you.
A second very important factor is water needed to fight a fire at your property, whether structure or wildfire. Water is still the best and most affordable agent known to extinguish fire. In a rural community it may be extremely hard to get water to the fire. Fire departments have water tenders to transport water to the scene, but again, distance and access may pose a problem for this equipment.
Construction of an on-site water supply that the fire department can utilize is an option you may choose. However, certain guidelines are recommended to allow effective and efficient use of on-site water supplies by the responding fire department (some systems may need Routt County Planning approval). Contact your fire protection district representative and Routt County Planning for these guidelines.
Preparedness and Fire Safety Tips
Always have smoke detectors!
Smoke Detectors are the most important fire safety tip and the most obvious. Make sure your home has working smoke detectors! This means if your smoke detectors are battery operated, make sure the battery is new and the smoke detector is working. Remember, a smoke detector cannot work if you removed the battery to put in one of the kids’ toys.
Because of increased response times to rural dwellings, safety and human lives are a primary concern of the fire protection districts. The districts have supported the adoption of fire codes requiring the installation of smoke detectors in all dwellings. These codes apply to new home construction as well as the remodeling of older homes. Questions about compliance with fire codes can be directed to the Routt County Regional Building Department and/or your local fire protection district representative.
Conduct an EDITH: Exit Drill In The Home
Your children are required to be prepared and go through fire drills at school, why shouldn’t they, as well as the rest of the family, be prepared at home?
These drills should not be intended to scare children, rather to inform them of what they should do in the event of a fire occurring in the home. Sit down with the family and draw a floor plan of your home. Explain what to do if there is a fire. Make sure everyone has at least two ways out of the house in case of a fire. Once outside, select a meeting place so everyone can be accounted for and you can inform firefighters when they arrive on the scene whether or not someone is trapped inside the house. Select a meeting place everyone can identify with, like a big tree in the yard or the light post. If you can practice escaping the house when there is not a fire, you should have no problems doing so if there is ever a need.
Have Fire Extinguishers in Homes, Barns, etc.
Fire Extinguishers are not only important to own, but you should know how to operate one. A good method for learning is called PASS. You can pass a football or basketball, but it’s time to learn to pass a fire extinguisher. That does not mean throwing it around the backyard, but that’s the easy way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher.
- P-pull the pin on your extinguisher,
- A-aim the nozzle at the base of the fire,
- S-squeeze the handle,
- S-sweep the extinguishing agent at the base of the fire.
Routt County subscribes to the CODE RED reverse 911 system in an effort to keep citizens informed about emergency situations, including wildfire. If you receive a CODE RED call, follow the instructions given to you by the recorded message. Evacuation areas and routes, shelter locations for both humans and animals, and more may be delivered via the system. To register your home and cell phone, email address, etc. for these important notifications, visit:
For additional information, contact:
Routt County Office of Emergency Management
136 6th Street, Routt County Courthouse Annex, First Floor
Phone: (970) 870-5549