Tri-County Firesafe Working Group (TCFSWG) promotes and supports public and private sectors in Broadwater, Jefferson and Lewis & Clark Counties, Montana, to make homes, properties, and the landscape more resilient to wildfire through hazard risk reduction cost-share programs. The treatment of hazardous fuels is one of the most proactive ways to reduce potential loss of life and property in the event of a wildland fire. By creating survivable space and reducing flammable fuels, you lower your fire risk, while increasing the chances that fire protection agencies can effectively deal with a wildland fire or home ignition, should it occur.
A typical project follows a process from assessment, scope of work, project layout, project agreement, contract administration, project work implementation and inspection, reimbursement, and project closeout. Due to limited funding and an effort to encourage broad participation for increased community impact, activities are prioritized and evaluated based on the ability of the project to reduce wildfire risk with the project area.
TCFSWG works with landowners to identify their risks through a free risk assessment. If a hazardous fuel mitigation project is warranted and the landowner is interested a Project Plan is prepared.
A project plan is prepared that specifies the work to be completed, the quoted price for each activity and the cost-share responsibility of the property owner, including approved in-kind contributions. The price for the mitigation contractor to do the work shall be evaluated by the TCFSWG and the property owner. If the cost is determined to be reasonable and fair for the area and site conditions and the landowner agrees, a contract will be issued. Project work must be completed within 6 months of project approval and agreement.
An agreement between TCFSWG, the landowner and the mitigation contractor is endorsed and work is scheduled. Site visits are made by TCGSWG to check progress and conditions of the work being performed. Once the project has been completed and a final inspection filed as per the contract documents and scope, TCFSWG will process the payments and closes out the contract.
Projects costs are matched by the landowner on a percentage of the total project cost. Match amount and allowance will be based on the requirements of the specific grant award that is funding the project. The determination of the match amount, and how that required match is to be met by the property owner will be detailed in the final project plan. Any proposed landowner planned labor or cost contribution must be approved by TCFSWG in advance and indicated as a part of the project plan as agreed to by the parties.
Generally, the mitigation contractor is engaged by TCFSWG. TCFSWG will pay the mitigation contractor the grant portion of the contract when the project is completed unless partial payments are warranted and pre-approved. The landowner will pay their portion of the work to the contractor upon project completion. No prepayment or partial payment to the mitigation contractor by the landowner shall be made without prior approval of TCFSWG. When pile burning is the specified slash removal method and environmental conditions require the burning be delayed, a portion of the cost to be paid to the mitigation contractor shall withheld by TCFSWG until the burning is complete. In special circumstances other means are available for payment and reimbursement and will be considered on a case by case basis.
If the project has merchantable byproducts, special arrangements must be made. Grantors refer to this as “Program Income”. Some grantors agree to using this income as match; others require it be subtracted from the total cost before match is calculated. This will be discussed and approved by all parties and be part of the Project Plan.
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