JACKSON, Wyo. — The Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted on Feb. 16, to implement new regulations which will prohibit wood roofing for new residential construction in the county’s wildland urban interface areas, beginning on March 1, 2021.
In the wake of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires a group of fire managers began work to study fire on the landscape; mapping the interface between forest areas and homes referred to as the wildland urban interface, forming the Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition, and writing a community wildfire protection plan. In 2008 as new construction pushed into the interface areas, codes pertaining to fire resistant construction within these higher hazard fire areas were adopted, with the ability to adjust the ignition resistance of the structure in relation to the fire severity of the area.
Ahead of the vote on Feb. 16, stakeholders of the Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS approached the Teton County Commissioners in January 2021 to open public comment proposing to strike fire treated wood shake shingle roof covering from the county adopted International Wildland Urban Interface Code for new construction homes within the mapped wildland urban interface.
“Over time, the harsh environmental impacts of this high-altitude climate affect fire retardant treated wood shakes, rendering them less and less fire-resistant in time,” commented Fire Marshal Kathy Clay. “We will be able to build a more fire resilient community by using weather-resistant roofing materials which remain fire resistant for the life of the roof covering.”
This new regulation is intended to add greater protection for homes that can be at great risk during wildfires in these fire-prone areas of the county. Fire-resistant roofing materials can mean the difference between preventing a house fire or losing the entire structure.
Homeowners who live within the mapped wildland urban interface wishing to replace their roof after March 1, 2021, will be required to adhere to the new rule. Clay also reminds homeowners to ensure pine duff and debris are cleared from wood-shake roofs and to consider replacing older, weather-worn roofs with more weather-proof, fire-resistant materials.
“Building a fire resilient community is a many-systems approach. As our climate continues to dry and our fire season extends, working together to reduce risk and improve positive outcomes takes engagement, education, and willingness from every member of this community, “said Clay.