With this season’s accumulating snowfall, Vail Fire and Emergency Services is asking property owners and managers to make arrangements to remove hazardous ice and snow accumulations that may endanger public safety or delay emergency response.
Icicles tend to form on the eaves of a roof due to the freeze-thaw cycle, creating a hazardous situation. The Vail Town Code prohibits the accumulation of ice and snow that might fall onto a sidewalk, street, alley or other publicly used right-of-way.
In addition to concerns about snow and ice overhangs, the town has received inquiries from homeowners asking for advice about snow removal from their roofs. Vail Fire Marshal Mike Vaughan recommends shoveling when more than two or three feet of compacted snow has accumulated on the roof of an older building.
Vaughan urges those who choose to shovel their own roofs or attempt to clear a roof with a “snow rake” to be mindful that steep sloped roofs will frequently slide. He says never stand directly below the area that is being cleaned because even a small section of a roof can drop several hundred pounds of snow. In addition, Vaughan recommends using a spotter and safety gear when shoveling, noting that a fall three times a person's body height can be fatal. "We recommend leaving steep pitched roofs and tall buildings to the experts," he said. There are numerous licensed and insured snow removal professionals who do business in the area.
Keeping your roof cleared of ice and snow will also allow proper venting of chimney and mechanical exhaust flues that extend through the roof. When exhaust gases from gas fire appliances can’t properly vent, there is a potential for carbon monoxide buildup within your home. Keeping your roof vents clear as well as working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home are a sure way to keep everyone in your home safe.
The Town of Vail reminds residents that clearing snow from driveways, parking areas and sidewalks is the responsibility of the property owner. Private snowplow operators are prohibited from pushing or plowing snow into Vail’s streets and roads and from impeding access to fire hydrants. Fire code requires that three feet of clearance be maintained around fire hydrants so that they are readily accessible for use. Residents are encouraged to “adopt” the fire hydrant closest to their house and clear the snow around it. It is the responsibility of the contractor to store snow on private property or haul snow away. Snow removed from the roofs of buildings in Vail Village and Lionshead also must be hauled away and not left on snow-melted surfaces.
Extra care should be taken when driving through Vail's neighborhoods, watching for hidden driveway entrances, until the narrow roadways can be widened. The larger accumulation of snow has necessitated snow storage in unusual places because there are fewer areas to store snow by both the public and private plow drivers. Residents are encouraged to report icy roads, visibility problems at intersections or other concerns by calling 970-479-2158.
For questions regarding hazardous ice and snow accumulations on building, call Town of Vail building official J.R. Mondragon at 970-479-2143 or Fire Marshal Mike Vaughan at 970-479-2252.