Building code reform fails to ignite

Wildfire state standard loses Legislature support

DENVER – A statewide building code in fire-prone areas failed to gain any traction with state legislators Wednesday, hobbling its chances two months before the Legislature convenes for its 2014 session.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s wildfire task force recommended a statewide model building code to reduce fire danger, with firefighters especially insistent on the importance of a state standard. But local governments and construction lobbyists didn’t like it, and legislators showed Wednesday they have little appetite for the idea.

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, wanted the Wildfire Matters Review Committee to propose the bill for introduction in January. But she withdrew the bill, citing a lack of votes.

Levy, who is stepping down from the Legislature this fall, said she couldn’t find interest among other committee members.

“I don’t think there’s someone who has the time or willingness to sponsor the bill,” Levy said.

Levy said she hopes with some additional revisions, the bill could still move forward in 2014. She dismissed arguments that it would violate local control.

“I think that argument no longer really holds sway, given what we know about wildfire not respecting property boundaries,” Levy said.

The Legislature’s wildfire committee did approve several other bills for introduction Wednesday, including a bill by Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, to provide death benefits to seasonal wildland firefighters who are killed in the line of duty in Colorado.

“We have a lot of people working on a seasonal basis. They don’t get paid well, they don’t have benefits,” Roberts said.

The panel also voted to pursue bills to let counties ban agricultural burns on red-flag days and to enhance a tax benefit for people who clear overgrowth from their property.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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