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Fire Alert

Proposed Deschutes County wildfire rules could boost home building costs

(Adding video, comment from Deschutes Co. planning manager)

Through online survey, 2 Planning Commission 'virtual meetings'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County said Monday it is considering new building codes and land use regulations to protect communities from wildfire. The proposed changes could help make homes more fire-resistant and require homeowners to create defensible space around their homes.

“We are well aware of the fire history in this county," Peter Gutowsky, Deschutes County planning manager, told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "I think the question is a good one. Are we doing enough or can we do more to protect our community from wildfire?”

The county acknowledged that updating local building codes to make homes more fire-resistant could make new construction and some remodels more expensive because of new requirements for decks, siding, vents and other materials.

The proposed rules would only apply to homes outside of city limits in unincorporated areas of the county.

The Deschutes County Community Development Department invites residents to learn more about the proposed changes and provide their feedback through an online survey:

Along with new construction outside city limits, remodeling projects could see higher costs due to new requirements for decks, siding, gutters, roofing and other materials.

County officials estimate the fireproofing materials could add up to $3,000 to the cost of a 1,200-square-foot home and up to $6,000 for a home twice that size.

Gutowsky said, “$6,000 for fire-resistant materials that deal with ventilation and siding and decking? I think on the surface, it seems like a reasonable number that can be integrated into a building design."

The Deschutes County Planning Commission will host two virtual meetings to provide residents a chance to learn more about the proposed changes and ask questions. Meetings will be held on:

  • Thursday, November 19, at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 3, at 6 p.m.

Staff will share the results of the community’s feedback to the Board of County Commissioners in early 2021.

For more information on how to participate in the virtual community meetings, visit  For questions, or more information, contact Peter Gutowsky, Planning Manager, 541-385-1709,; or Tanya Saltzman, Associate Planner, 541-388-6528,

Visit for current project information, and to sign up for project updates.

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Government-politics / News / Top Stories
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.

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  1. Isn’t this further stepping into government overreach territory? Never let a good crisis go to waste. Should this be addressed at everyone’s home? Absolutely, but it should not be government mandated. Educate the homeowner and offer suggestions and be done with it.

      1. one step at a time, that could be next if this sticks. Interesting thing about fire sprinklers, they don’t work really well without water pressure, usually water pressure is produced by electric pumps – wonder how good they systems are working with the rolling blackouts California is working?????

  2. allowing builders and developers the right to cut their own trees down, before they had to build the houses around the trees would have been sweet. trees are pretty, but a whole bunch of them mixed with a whole bunch of buildings dont mix. do lawns or farms buffering the neighborhoods/cities from the forests, when is the last time you heard of a out of control golf course fire taking out a city or town. forest fires stop when they hit a tilled field or irrigated pasture.

    1. Yeah, trees are pretty. But, let’s cut them down so the greedy pigs can make more money. Lawns? Sorry, we need the water for more development, so the greedy pigs can make some more money. Farms? No thanks, we need to expand the UGB so we can build more “affordable housing” (or, at least, the greedy pigs can make even more money).

  3. The county wants more money for this crap yet at the same time the fire department wont enforce outdoor burning requirements ? What say you DRFPD#2 ????

  4. No wood siding, no wood roofing, no gutters to hold duff, no plants within 10 feet of structures, no plastic decks, no tree limbs less than 8 foot off the ground on trees exceeding 4-inch DBH, no bark mulch, no houses or outbuildings within 100 feet of each other, etc. I liked the part where Peter Gutowsky said “$6,000 for fire-resistant materials that deal with ventilation and siding and decking? I think on the surface, it seems like a reasonable number that can be integrated into a building design.” He does not care what the price increase in the cost of a house is, more tax revenue for him to spend.

  5. Government over reach. Might as well have an hoa for rural areas. This is a horrible idea. So times are hard people are struggling financially, homes are over priced and our county wants to raise the cost of building homes?
    How many of those wildfires were in deschutes county this year?…I live in south county i didnt get evacuation notice, east of bend didnt get notice…did sisters get notice or just camp Sherman?

  6. Let’s all complain and not do this, then whine and complain when a fire comes and burns down your home! There will never be enough fire fighters and equipment to protect all structures, so make it fire safe, and stay and fight and you may save your home. It’s your only choice! We saved our house twice, by staying and fighting, I even saved my neighbors from burning down after they left! Be nice to your neighbors and they will help you. My cousin had an exceptionally bitchy neighbor, called the cops on them numerous times for nothing. Guess what, my cousin saved his home and watched his neighbors burn to the ground, problem solved!.

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