Wildfires continue to impose an ever-increasing threat on our mountainous communities, and the leading cause of home ignition during a wildfire is embers. Science and post-fire data has proven that a coupled-approach of proper Defensible Space and Home Hardening initiatives can greatly increase a structures likelihood of surviving a wildfire.
Our Fire Protection Districts have been working with the community, residents, local tree service, and defensible space contractors for years to educate on how to effectively manage landscaping and native plants to reduce wildfire risk. The building community has also been implementing ignition resistant construction methods through California Building Code Chapter 7A for new construction projects. The major gap that’s missing is that existing construction built prior to the passing of CBC Chapter 7A (2007 and older) need to take significant steps to retrofit their homes with the proper Home Hardening techniques.
Home hardening is an effective way of defending your livelihoods from wildfire. Specifically from embers that can land on your roof and other crevasses where the fire can spread.
Some great examples of home hardening are to replace your roof with a class A or C fire resistance materials, enclose your eves, keeping your rain gutters clear, making sure all vents are a minimum of 1/8 inch mesh, and adding a 6 inch non combustible siding.
CLASS A ROOFING materials include asphalt fiberglass composition shingles, clay and cementitious tiles (both flat and barrel shaped), and some metal roofing materials.
CLASS C ROOFING materials include recycled plastic, rubber and aluminum. Class B and Class C roofing materials can have a Class A “by assembly” rating. In these cases, additional materials that enhance the fire resistance of the roof assembly (i.e., the roofing material plus other materials included in the roof assembly) must be installed. In these cases, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
As it is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to find and retain your homeowners insurance, Insurance companies are taking home hardening as a major factor when evaluating your property for fire insurance.
There are many more low cost examples on the link below.
More info on Home Hardening can be found by going to: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/hardening-your-home/.
Northstar Fire Department