Our recommendations are only practical suggestions to provide fire protection for homes - they are not a guarantee of survivability for homes, as fires can and will destroy whatever structures are directly in their path.
There are specific actions that homeowners can take to increase their home's fire resistance and protect for indirect exposure to wildfires, for example, burning embers carried by the wind.
- Build homes on the most level portion of available land. Fires move up a slope faster than on level ground because hot gases rise in front of them, and preheat their path.
- Be careful about locating a home near any of the property's features that might channel the flow of wind. Accordingly, single-story homes should be built at least 30 feet from any ridge or cliff, and homes with more than one story should be built even further back.
- Since a major cause of home loss is the home's roof catching fire, consider using non-combustible or fire resistant roofing materials, such as Class A shingles, metal, slate or clay tile, cement and concrete products, or terra cotta tiles.
- Fire-resistant sub roofing can also increase a home's survivability.
- Since vinyl can soften and melt during a fire, consumers should consider using fire resistive exterior wall cladding, such as masonry or stucco.
- Concerning window size and materials:
- Smaller panes perform better than larger panes;
- Double pane glass and tempered glass are more effective than single pane glass; and
- Skylights should have non-flammable, screening shutters.
- To prevent sparks from entering the home via vents:
- Cover the exterior attic and underfloor vents with wire mesh that is no larger than 1/8 of an inch;
- Ensure that the undereave and soffit vents are closer to the roof line than the wall; and
- Eaves should be boxed in, but have enough ventilation to prevent condensation.
- Keep gutters, eaves, and the roof clear of leaves and other debris that might catch fire.
- Occasionally inspect the home, looking for such deterioration as breaks and spaces between roof tiles, warping wood, or cracks and crevices in the structure.
- Consumers should also inspect their property, clearing dead wood and dense vegetation from at least 30 feet from their homes, and moving firewood 100 feet away from the house or attachments, such as fences or decks.
- Do not attach an all-wood fence to homes, unless masonry or metal is used as a protective barrier between the fence and the house.
- Use non-flammable metal when constructing a trellis, and cover it with high-moisture, non-flammable vegetation.
- Ensure that an elevated wooden deck is not located at the top of a hill where it would be in the direct line of a fire that is moving up a slope
- Consider a terrace instead.
- Do not allow combustible materials and debris to accumulate within 20 feet of the home.
- Screen under porches or other areas below the ground line with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to keep sparks and flames out.
- Be aware of the local area fire history so that you can plan your landscaping design accordingly. Also, consider the site location, overall terrain, prevailing winds, seasonal weather conditions, and property contours and boundaries.
- The main idea is to create a safety zone around the home to reduce the risk of fire losses.
- Remove dead or low-hanging branches - within 15 feet -- of a stovepipe or chimney outlet, as well as leaves that may be accumulating next to the home that would provide fuel for the fire.
- Mow tall dry grasses that would otherwise provide a path for the fire that can lead directly to a house.
- Prune shrubbery and remove dead leaves and branches to decrease their flammability.
- Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
- Remove vines from the walls of the home.
- Dispose of lawn cuttings and debris promptly, according to local regulations.
- Ensure that the irrigation system is well maintained.
- Include "fuel breaks" in your design, such as driveways, gravel walkways, plants with a high moisture content, and lawns.
- Eliminate ladder fuels - vegetation that serves as a link between grass and tree tops. Remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.
- Store gasoline and other flammable materials in approved safety cans, and place them in a safe location away from the base of buildings.
For More Information
Visit these websites for more information on how to make your home more fire resistant.