As a homeowner, you are not powerless in your defense against wildfires. By taking a proactive approach to wildfire prevention, you can significantly increase your safety and your home’s likelihood of survival during a catastrophic wildfire event.
The actions you take to reduce the risk on your property before a fire occurs can make all the difference.
Hardening a home describes the process of reducing a home’s risk to wildfire by using non-combustible building materials, keeping the area around your home free of debris and taking steps to prevent embers from entering the home.
Embers pose the greatest threat to a home. These fiery little pieces of wood shoot off from the main fire and get carried to other areas by fast-moving air currents. A high-intensity fire can produce a blizzard of embers. Some can travel more than a mile before landing. They can get into the smallest places and easily start a fire that can burn down an entire home.
The materials you use to construct your home can determine whether your home will survive a wildfire. While you may not be able to accomplish all the measures listed below, each will increase your home’s chance of survival. Here are a few tips for fire resistant home construction.
Roof and Gutters
- Use fire-resistant roofing material such as metal, tile or Class A shingles.
- Inspect for gaps in roofing that can expose roof decking or supports.
- Install metal gutters and gutter guards to keep debris from accumulating.
- Place angle flashing over openings between the roof decking and fascia board.
For more information, check out this NFPA Fact Sheet on Roofing Materials
Eaves and Soffits
- Enclose or box-in eaves with non-combustible materials such as metal, cement board or stucco.
- Install a metal screen behind roof vents.
For more information, check out this NFPA Fact Sheet on Under Eaves
- Select heat and fire-resistant siding such as metal, brick, block, stone, cement board or fire retardant treated lumber.
- Make sure there are no crevices or holes that could catch embers.
For more information, check out this NFPA Fact Sheet on Coatings
- Install double-paned or tempered-glass windows.
- Use metal framing or aluminum coverings for wood or vinyl.
- Use a fiberglass or metal screen.
- Use drapes and shutters that are fire resistant to help reduce the likelihood of fire spread.
For more information, check out this NFPA Fact Sheet on Skylights
- Install 1/8-inch metal screening behind vents.
- Clean vents to keep them free of debris, allowing them to keep embers out while allowing air flow for ventilation.
For more information, check out this NFPA Fact Sheet on Embers
Decks, Fencing and Skirting
- Spread gravel or other non-combustible material under the deck.
- Screen in the bottom of the deck with metal 1/8-inch screening.
- Separate wooden fences from the house with a stone or metal barrier.
- Use a non-combustible material for skirting around the foundation
Exterior sprinklers can be used to supplement home hardening practices. See this NFPA Fact Sheet on Sprinklers.