What is Wildfire Mitigation?
Wildfire mitigation is the implementation of a variety of precautionary measures to protect a building from a wildfire
Wildfire Mitigation is the implementation of various measures designed to minimize the destructive effects a wildfire has on your property. Some measures are designed to modify the forest environment surrounding a structure that puts the structure at risk from destruction by a wildfire. Others focus on modifying the construction of a structure itself or changing its location to improve its ability to withstand a wildfire without being dependent upon fire suppression resources. -per Boulder County website.
Who does wildfire mitigation?
Homeowners are primarily responsible for wildfire mitigation. Wildfire mitigation acts as a preventative tactic used to mitigate the risk of fire for your home. Anyone who owns a home in forested or otherwise fire-prone areas should consider the hazard presented to their property by a wildfire and should attempt to mitigate its effects. By doing wildfire mitigation work, homeowners can substantially increase their safety and reduce the risk to life and property. However, given the unpredictable nature and behavior of wildfire, it should be noted that there are no guarantees.
Wildfire mitigation is the implementation of a variety of precautionary measures to protect a building from a wildfire. Homes in heavily forested, dry areas should be inspected periodically and modified appropriately, especially during dry spells, to ensure their fire resistance. Grasslands and chaparral also experience serious fires.
What is Defensible Space
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 for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a wildland fire.
Photo Credit: City of San Mateo, California
100 Feet of Defensible Space is the Law
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 for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a fire.”
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.
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 fire risk of wood roofs. As fire resistance of treated and non-treated roofs came into question, some governmental agencies banned the use of wood roofs entirely.
Building codes have been established to protect homes within wildland urban 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. The objective of these establishments is to protect citizens and properties from fire. Fire resistance ratings have been established for building materials, there are three resistance ratings Class A, Class B, and Class C rated.
Class A - severe fire test exposure
Class B - moderate fire test exposure
Class C - light fire test exposure
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. It is also important to know that burning embers from wild fires can travel and easily spark ignition on a wood roof as wood roofs are very susceptible to fire ignition from outside sources such as flying embers from a nearby fire.
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 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.
what causes Wildfires?
While it is difficult to provide one simple answer, low annual rainfall, low humidity, dry conditions, 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 firebrands to structures with wood roofs causing great property loss. In the event of a fire, flames can rapidly spread to adjacent homes by means of flying embers landing on wood roofs.
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.
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, many insurance companies provide a discount for homes without wood roofs.
So, what are my Roof options?
If you are in a fire danger 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.
When it comes to a fire safe roofing material, CeDUR specializes in manufacturing synthetic composite 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 and and self extinguish flame spread in the event of a fire. We also are the most fire safe roofing material available, our proprietary fire retardant formula is embedded within each individual shake and self extinguishes flame spread in the event of a fire. CeDUR is trusted by architects, distributors, contractors, home builders, property managers, and homeowners across the United States. No one can replicate the authenticity and natural wood beauty better than CeDUR, see for yourself by requesting free samples today.