By Mark J. Platten, CSU Extension Director, Teller County
As we've seen with the Marshall Fire, Black Forest Fire, and Waldo Canyon Fire, wildfires can affect urban environments as well as the more rural, forested environments we associate with wildfires. In this blog we'll discuss strategies that can give you the highest likelihood of having your home survive a wildfire, although there are no guarantees.
Mountain Shadows (Waldo Canyon Fire, June 23, 2012)
It is NOT a guarantee that firefighters will be able to save your house during a wildfire.
Three factors determine wildfire behavior: fuels, weather and topography.
We cannot alter weather or topography, so we must concentrate on altering fuels.
Home Ignition Zone (HIZ)
Two factors have emerged as the primary determinants of a home’s ability to survive a wildfire:
1. The quality of the defensible space and,
2. A structure’s ignitability.
The primary goal is to reduce or eliminates fuels and ignition sources within the HIZ.
RoofInstall or replace your roof with a Class A-rated roof with noncombustible coverings.
Metal shingles and panels are noncombustible, but they readily transfer heat. If they are installed over wood battens, fire-retardant-treated battens should be specified and installed.
An open overhang. The exposed timber rafters and decking are susceptible to ignition, and embers and hot gases can enter the attic through unprotected vent.
Remove all debris from the roof and gutters to prevent embers from starting a fire.
Exterior wall coverings that are noncombustible or fire-resistant and not susceptible to melting are recommended.
A minimum fire-resistance rating of one hour.For the best protection, ensure that exterior wall coverings are noncombustible or fire-resistant and not susceptible to melting.
Cover exterior attic vents, dryer vents, and under-eave vents with metal wire mesh no larger than 1/8 inch to keep embers out.
Exterior doors are subject to the same types of exposure as exterior walls in a wildfire.
Garage doors are typically made of wood, aluminum, or steel and are insulated or non-insulated.
This type of fence can also
collect embers and firebrands in a wildfire and act as a horizontal ladder fuel
by allowing the fire to travel along the fence toward the main building.
Replace combustible materials with noncombustible or fire-resistant materials.Replace timber railings with railings constructed of fire-resistant materials.
Construct deck skirting around the deck or max 1/8-inch wire mesh.
Don't store combustible items on the deck.
Double-pane, tempered glass is best.
Install metal screens on all windows.
Plastic skylights can melt.
These are recommendations to give your home the best chance of surviving a wildfire.