County planning board drafts pre-construction safety review form to aid public wellbeing

Development and construction processes entail a large amount of activity and planning. Sometimes floorplans and paint colors take precedence over safety considerations.

Fire officials at Monday night’s Madison County Planning Board meeting said they like to see property owners who take care of their own property and safety, which most property owners do. However, those who do not take care of their property and safety make it difficult and less enticing for crews to respond to a call that may put them more in harm’s way.

“If they’re not going to take care of their own property, then we may not, or be able to either,” one fire official said.

A pre-construction safety review will cover the layout of the home a site plan, the fire department connection location, building square footage, location of nearest firefighting water supply, slope and grade of the property, proximity to other structures, the location of landscaping and foliage, and the location, layout and grade of driveways. While the review will have no authoritative power, the suggestions made by the reviewing fire department officials are strongly encouraged to protect not only the homeowners but also their neighbors and surrounding community.

Big Sky uses a similar form, which was instituted after issues occurred while responding to calls. Homes either had driveways that were inaccessible or had an incorrect address. Sometimes fire officials had no idea the home was even there. Challenges like that do not allow for speedy response time, Madison County Planning Director Charity Fechter said.

“It’s simply a matter of public safety,” Fechter said.

The review form needs to be revised and finalized by Fechter, the planning board and director of emergency management, Chris Mumme. The county commissioners will make a resolution to approve it if they see fit.

The Firewise Principles states that when it comes to wildfire risk, it is not a geographical location, but a set of conditions that determine the home’s ignition potential. A home’s ignition risk is determined by its immediate surroundings or its “home ignition zone” and the home’s construction materials.

Fecther said she expects the pre-construction safety review form to be ready for commissioner approval in a month’s time.

Learn more about how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at www.firewise.org.

In other business, the planning board began updating county subdivision regulations. The entire process will take months and the commissioners should adopt the updated regulations by May or June of 2014. The planning board continued its review of the community wildfire protection plan. A public hearing will be held Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. regarding changes in regulations for buildings for rent or lease.

The next regularly scheduled is set for Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Commissioners Conference Room.

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