PROTECT YOUR home FROM WILDFIRE
What is Wildfire Mitigation?
Wildfire mitigation is the implementation of a variety of precautionary measures to protect a building from wildfire. It is a preventative tactic used to mitigate risk of fire for your home. Homes in dry areas or heavily forested areas, should be inspected regularly and maintained appropriately. Some of the measures are designed to modify the forest environment surrounding a structure while others focus on modifying the construction of a structure itself by changing it’s location or improving its ability to withstand a wildfire without being dependent upon fire suppression resources.
Who Is Responsible for Wildfire Mitigation?
Homeowners are primarily responsible for wildfire mitigation. For homeowners who are building a new home, some counties may require individuals to create and implement a Wildfire Mitigation Plan per local Building and Land Use Codes. This includes creating, defining, and maintaining the defensible space around your home. By doing Wildfire Mitigation work, property owners can substantially increase their safety and reduce their risk.
What is Defensible Space?
Defensible space is an around a home or building in which vegetation, debris, and combustible fuels have been cleared, treated, or reduced to slow the spread of fire away from the building.
Creating defensible space is important to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the area you create between your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surrounds it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire, and it helps protect your home from catching fire.
How to Maintain Defensible Space
In January 2005, a new California state law became effective that extended the defensible space around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet. According to the City of San Mateo, California website: “In January 2005 a new state law became effective that extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire. This defensible space also provides firefighter safety when protecting homes during a fire.” While this is a California state law, if you live in another state, we recommend you maintain this same defensible space around your property if possible.
For example, in Boulder Colorado, Boulder County’s Building and Land Use Codes require individuals who are constructing a new home in forested areas, or remodeling existing homes, to create and implement a Wildfire Mitigation Plan, which includes the creation and maintenance of effective defensible space. Homeowners living in fire prone environments are encouraged, but not required, to create and maintain effective defensible space.
Zone 1 extends 30 feet* out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.
Remove all dead plants, grass and weeds (vegetation)
Remove dead or dry leaves and pine needles from your yard, roof and rain gutters
Trim trees regularly to keep branches a minimum of 10 feet from other trees
Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney
Relocate wood piles into Zone 2
Remove or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows
Remove vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks
Create a separation between trees, shrubs and items that could catch fire, such as patio furniture, wood piles, swing sets, etc.
Zone 2 extends 100 feet out from buildings, structures, decks, etc.
Cut or mow annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches
Create horizontal spacing between shrubs and trees
Create vertical spacing between grass, shrubs and trees
Remove fallen leaves, needles, twigs, bark, cones, and small branches. However, they may be permitted to a depth of 3 inches
Solution: Reduce the flammability of your home as much as possible. Install ember resistant vents, stand alone Class A roofing materials (CeDUR), external sprinklers operated by an independent system, and remove flammable materials from around the structure.
So, What Causes Wildfires?
Three conditions must be present for a wildfire to burn: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. Firefighters call these three elements “the fire triangle”.
So when it comes to causing wildfires, it is difficult to provide one simple answer. There are many factors that contribute; low annual rainfall, low humidity, lightning, dry conditions, underbrush, and high winds all contribute to a disastrous situation for any fire. History has shown that high wind conditions can take a seemingly innocuous fire, even under control, and spread a fire to structures with wood roofs causing property loss. In the event of a fire, flying embers may cause the fire to spread rapidly. The flames can rapidly spread to adjacent homes by means of burning embers landing on roofs which can spark ignition.
Aside from environmental factors, often times wildfires are started by people. The source of many wildfires can be traced to discarded cigarettes, leaving campfires unattended, arson, or losing control of prescribed burns or crop fires.
During a Wildfire Your Roof is the Most Vulnerable Part
During a wildfire, the roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Sparks and ignited debris can be lifted and carried by convection currents up to a half-mile from a fire. Roofs present a large expanse where burning debris may land and your roof is your first line of defense against natures elements.
If your home has a wood shake or wood shingle roof, then it is at a very high risk of being destroyed and catching fire during a wildfire. Wood roofs are a major fire concern and dangerous for homeowners, families, and communities throughout the United States. Regardless of the way they are cut (hand split, tapersawn, heavy cedar shakes), if it is a wood-based roofing material, it is a dangerous fire concern for a home.
All “Class A” Fire Resistant Roofing Products Are Not Created Equal
Most high end synthetic, composite, or polymer based roofing materials are marketed as “Class A Fire Resistant”. However they are able to achieve that Class A fire rating by using a special fire resistant underlayment during the roof installation, in other words the product itself is not Class A Fire Rated rather the complete roofing system is. CeDUR is the only stand alone Class A Fire Rated roofing material that does not require a special fire resistant underlayment to be installed.
Many wood based roofing materials can achieve a Class A fire rating by using fire retardant chemicals, however wood is naturally flammable. The wood shake shingle industry developed wood roofing materials, which are labeled as ‘treated with fire retardant’, to meet increased building code requirements. As fire concern and flammable conditions of un-treated wood became an issue, fire retardant chemicals were applied to help reduce the fire risk of wood roofs. Pressure treated wood shakes and shingles receive a Class A rating when installed with a fire resistant underlayment. Fire protection is provided by pressure impregnating fire retardant polymers into the innermost cells of the wood. However, many times there are no required inspections or tests after installation of wood roofs to determine the status of the fire retardant. Often times it is also difficult to tell when, or if, a roof was fire treated or when it has lost its original treatment by inspection.
As fire resistance of treated and non-treated roofs came into question, some governmental agencies banned the use of wood roofs entirely. In mountain towns and mountain resort communities across the United States, the use of wood shake shingles is banned.
Clearly it would be most beneficial to communities and homeowners if all roofs in fire danger communities were Class A fire rated. However, for homeowners that have a wood roof, a serious problem exists for firefighters to distinguish treated roofs from untreated roofs during a fire. In the event of a major fire, firefighters may need to perform a triage operation (which house to save first), and in some cases the distinction between treated and un-treated wood is extremely difficult.
CeDUR Roofing Shakes are Stand Alone Class A Fire Rated. So, with a CeDUR roof there is no need for chemical treatments, chemical preservatives, or a special fire resistant underlayment to be installed in order for your roof to achieve a Class A fire rating. CeDUR shakes are designed and engineered to resistant extreme temperatures with minimal heat transfer. During the CeDUR Class A burning brand test, CeDUR shakes reached temperatures in excess of 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit and did not ignite, by comparison wood shakes ignite at just 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a look at CeDUR’s extreme fire resistance and minimal heat transfer for yourself:
The Importance of Building Codes, Cal Fire, and Wildland Urban Interface
Building codes have been established to protect homes within Wildland Urban Interface areas from firestorms. Establishments such as Cal Fire and the Wildland Urban Interface help keep citizens aware and informed of the protection that can be taken to ensure proper fire safety.
For example, Cal Fire is responsible for providing wildland fire protection and resource management for over 31 million acres throughout California. Wildland Urban Interface is defined as the area where houses are in or near wildland vegetation, and this is the area where wildfires pose the greatest risk to people due to the proximity of flammable vegetation.
The objective of these establishments is to protect citizens and properties from fire. Fire resistance ratings have been established for building materials and building codes. There are the three resistance ratings: Class A, Class B, and Class C rated.
Class A - severe fire test exposure - able to withstand severe fire exposure
Class B - moderate fire test exposure - able to withstand moderate fire exposure
Class C - light fire test exposure - able to withstand light fire exposure
Insurance Companies Encourage You To Use A Class A Fire Rated Roofing Material
Insurance companies are now recognizing the inherent dangers of wood roofs and may impose a premium for such a roof, or simply refuse coverage. In California and many other states, insurance companies provide a nice discount for homes with a Class A Fire Rated roofing material.
If you are looking to receive insurance discounts it is recommended to have a Class A Fire Rated roofing material installed on your home.
So, what are my roofing options?
If you live in a fire prone community it is best to choose a roofing material that is not only Class A Fire Rated, but has been tested and certified by a certified testing laboratory. The most notable testing laboratory for building materials is Underwriters Laboratories.
The impact on an individual homeowner, when changing roof materials, may be negligible when all costs for the materials are amortized over the life of the roof covering. When you consider installation costs, life expectancy, and warranty, treated wood shakes can be four times the cost of concrete tiles, and twice the cost of coated metals and synthetic materials. The choice of a roofing product may also be influenced by insurance.
If you are making a long term investment into your home, it is best to weigh all of your roof options. While materials like asphalt shingles and clay tiles are low cost, they will not last long. It is best to consider high end roof materials like CeDUR roofing shakes if you want to increase the value of your property and overall appearance of your property.
CeDUR Is The Most Fire Safe Roofing Material
When it comes to fire safe roofing materials, CeDUR specializes in manufacturing synthetic roofing shakes that look just like natural wood shake. Unlike wood which is highly flammable, CeDUR shakes are not a fire risk. In fact, CeDUR shakes are completely fire resistant, stand alone Class A Fire Rated, and and self extinguish flame spread in the event of a fire. CeDUR is the most fire safe roofing material available, our proprietary fire retardant formula is embedded within each individual shake. This makes CeDUR the best roofing material for property owners living in fire prone areas. CeDUR is trusted by fire code officials, Mountain Areas Safety Task force (MAST), architects, distributors, contractors, home builders, property managers, and homeowners across the United States. No other building material manufacturer can replicate the extreme fire resistance and natural wood beauty better than CeDUR, see for yourself by requesting free samples today.