Is Your Home Hardened to Survive Wildfire Embers Storm?

Is Your Home Hardened to Survive Wildfire Embers Storm?

Fire hardening means strengthening a home to withstand wildfires and ember storms better. While it doesn’t make a home completely fireproof, it involves reinforcing vulnerable parts with special materials and techniques, making it more resistant to heat, flames, and wildfire embers. Living in areas prone to wildfires requires taking steps to protect homes.

Homes built according to modern building codes, especially those built after 2008, and maintaining a defensible space increase their chances of surviving wildfires. In this blog, we will discuss whether your home is hardened enough to survive flying embers and comply with several building codes. We will also provide information on how fire resistant vents can help protect your home from the destructive impact of wildfires.

Know the Law for Defensible Space & Hardening Your Home

If you reside within a State Responsibility Area (SRA), you must ensure that your property adheres to California’s building and fire codes. These codes mandate homeowners to safeguard their properties against wildfires proactively.

Within the SRA, California law dictates that homeowners must clear flammable materials, such as brush or vegetation, within 100 feet (or up to the property line) to establish a defensible space buffer. This buffer aids in impeding the progress of oncoming wildfires and ensures the safety of firefighters defending your residence.

Furthermore, the law mandates that new homes be constructed using fire-resistant materials. You fortify your home by incorporating features like fire-resistant roofing, enclosed eaves, and dual-paned windows, increasing its chances of surviving a wildfire.

Adhering to these regulations helps prevent buildings from being ignited by airborne embers, which can travel considerable distances from a wildfire, sometimes up to a mile away. It’s essential to consult your local fire station for information on specific laws in your area, as local jurisdictions may impose more stringent requirements.

Hardening Your Home – Ready for Wildfire

The National Fire Protection Association highlighted three main ways wildfires can threaten your home: radiated heat, direct flame exposure, and airborne firebrands like wildfire embers or burning pieces of wood or vegetation. Wildfire embers are particularly risky as they can travel more than a mile in the wind, sparking fires and igniting homes and debris. Whether constructing a new home or renovating an existing one, using fire-resistant materials can protect your home from wildfires. This helps protect your house and can act as a barrier, potentially reducing the fire’s size and aiding firefighters in gaining control more efficiently.

Roofing Solutions

The roof is the most susceptible part of your residential property, especially for residences with wood or shingle roofs, making them highly vulnerable to wildfire destruction. Consider the following measures:

  • Build or re-roof using composition, metal, clay, or tile materials. Ensure there are no spaces between the roof decking & covering to prevent embers intrusions.
  • Regularly remove accumulated and dry vegetative debris from the home’s roof to minimize fire risks.

Eaves & Soffits

Eaves, when boxed in (soffit-eave design), should be protected with ignition-resistant or noncombustible materials or coverings:

  • Use fire-resistant materials for eaves and soffits, especially in fire-prone areas.
  • Use eave or soffit vents, as they are equipped with mesh screens.

Window Safety

During wildfires, windows can break, and embers may get inside, starting fires. To address this:

  • Choose windows with two layers of glass; one should be tempered to lower the risk of breaking in a fire.
  • Install screens on all windows you can open to make it harder for embers to get in and reduce heat exposure.

Wall Construction

Wood products are flammable, making them poor choices for siding. Ensure your walls are constructed with ignition-resistant materials:

  • Build or remodel walls using stucco and fiber cement wall siding. 
  • Wood treated with fire retardant or alternative materials approved for the purpose.

Rain Gutter Maintenance

Rain gutters need proper maintenance to prevent the accumulation of plant debris:

  • Keep rain gutters clear or enclose them to prevent debris buildup.
  • Install a corrosion-resistant, noncombustible metal drip edge for additional protection.

Chimney Safety

Chimney and stove pipe outlets should be covered with a nonflammable screen:

  • Utilize metal screens featuring openings ranging from 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch to prevent ember escape.
  • Close the fireplace flue when not using the chimney during the wildfire season.

Garage Precautions

Secure your garage against fire emergencies:

  • Keep a fire extinguisher & essential tools like a shovel, bucket, rake, and hose in the garage.
  • Install a battery backup to the garage door motor for easy operation during power outages.

Driveways and Access Roads

Consider maintaining driveways and access roads:

  • Build and sustain driveways according to state and local codes.
  • Trim trees & shrubs overhanging the main road to enable fire emergency vehicles to pass.

Water Supply Preparedness

Prepare for fire emergencies with adequate water supply:

  • Keep several garden hoses that are long enough to reach every part of your home and other structures on your property.
  • If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump for additional water supply during emergencies.

Deck Safety

Consider this for the safety of your deck: 

  • Decks within 10 feet of the building should be constructed with ignition-resistant or noncombustible materials. 
  • If a deck overhangs a slope, create and maintain defensible space downslope to reduce the risk of flames reaching the underside of the deck.

Installing Vents

Traditional vents on homes create openings for flying wildfire embers, increasing the potential for fire spread. This is why you need to

  • Select Ember or fire resistant vents (WUI vents) to enhance protection.
  • Constructed with materials that withstand high temperatures, ember-resistant vents reduce the risk of flames spreading through the ventilation system.
  • Adhering to building codes in wildfire-prone areas is essential for your safety.
  • These vents use features like fine mesh screens to resist ember entry, which is crucial during wildfires when the wind can carry embers.

Conclusion

Ensuring the resilience of residences in regions prone to wildfire embers is important. Using fire-resistant materials in adherence to building codes significantly increases its resistance. From utilizing fire-resistant roofing to safeguarding your windows and walls, along with installing safety features such as fire resistant vents, are critical for enhancing the likelihood of survival from these devastating wildfires. However, you can consider Vulcan Vents as your vents provider and installer. We offer a comprehensive solution to enhance your home’s fire resistance. Our Vulcan Vents are specially designed to withstand high temperatures and prevent ember intrusion, a common cause of wildfires spreading to residential areas. Contact Us Today!

Don't forget to share this post!

Leave a Comment