Routt County Building Official Todd Carr held nothing back when talking about the fire dangers of using flammable wood shingles for area buildings during the Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Conference in late April.
“We still allow wood shake roofs. It’s really ridiculous that we allow that,” Carr told the full auditorium of planners, fire professionals and community members. “The fact that they could exist here doesn’t make much sense.”
So, at the May 4 quarterly meeting of the Routt County Building Oversight Committee, Carr called for a vote concerning banning the use of easily combustible roofing materials. City of Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Doug Shaffer attended the committee meeting in support of the change.
Following the unanimous committee vote, the building code amendment will become effective June 1 throughout unincorporated Routt County, the City of Steamboat Springs and the towns of Hayden, Yampa and Oak Creek. The fire mitigation measure prohibits the installation of wood shingle roofs unless constructed of approved fire-retardant roofing materials.
The change applies to any alterations, additions or roof replacement permits as well as new construction for residential, commercial, historical and agricultural buildings, Carr said. Roofing materials that look like old-fashioned wood shingles are readily available in versions treated to delay or impede fire ignition, he said.
“When a wildfire takes place there is always a great concern with the spread of hot embers and ash that can carry for miles,” Carr said in a letter to officials last week. “The purpose of this policy is to reduce the risk of hot embers or ash landing on a combustible wood shake/shingle roof and causing a structure fire or increasing risk (to) nearby structures.”
The measure is the first local amendment adopted from the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code from the International Code Council that guides construction regulations, but it is likely not the last, Carr said. Due to increasing wildlife dangers in the state, and more strict coverage demands from insurance companies, additional building codes related to the wildland-urban interface may be considered for Routt County.
“In many cases, insurance companies may hold a more stringent position than our current codes and policies, and I expect moving forward in the future this will become quite common throughout all of Colorado from insurance company policies,” Carr said.
Carr wrote he will continue to develop possible code adoptions for consideration in the future, in his letter to municipal leaders.
The building official also received direction from the committee to move forward with creating drafts of possible building code amendments that require more energy efficiency measures for larger new homes. The tiered measures for energy efficiency would be applied to homes starting at 3,500 square feet and again at 5,000 square feet or larger, Carr said.
Limiting home sizes as a means to reduce energy was proposed in the most recent Routt County Master Plan survey.
“The bigger the home, the more energy they could use both inside and outside the home with electrical, mechanical and plumbing equipment and fixtures,” Carr said. “We are looking to help align our adopted building codes with the county’s climate action goals.”
Carr said he will research draft options for energy efficiency for large homes during the next year as part of the building department’s advance planning before the next update of building codes in Routt County scheduled for Jan. 1, 2024.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email [email protected]