When a house is still standing after a wildfire destroys neighboring homes, observers often wonder how the home survived. While not every wildfire can be avoided, several factors are key to preventing damage or saving a structure from destruction.
With limited resources to respond to a large wildfire, homeowners within Wildland-Urban Interface areas need to reduce their property’s vulnerability to wildfires. Contrary to common belief, it is not a wall of fire that damages most homes. More often homes are destroyed when embers carried for miles land on combustible surfaces or enter through unprotected openings.
PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY FOR WILDFIRES
Several factors can improve the odds that a home will survive a wildfire, but they are typically a combined effect of mitigation strategies:
- Create defensible space in the home ignition zone of at least 100 feet around any structure
- Reduce fuels in the area
- Harden the exterior of the home using fire- and ember-resistant materials
FIRE RETARDANT SYSTEMS
Another strategy to help protect a home from a wildfire is to install an external fire-retardant spray system. Wildfire sprinkler systems saturate the structure using sprinklers strategically placed on the roof, under eaves and in perimeter landscaping. These systems can be retrofitted to existing homes or incorporated into new constructions. When activated, the sprinklers coat the home with a Class A fire retardant that provides greater protection than water.
Fireproofing a home through the combined effect of creating defensible space, reducing fuels, hardening the exterior and installing an exterior fire-retardant sprinkler system offers the greatest chance of a home surviving a wildfire.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. The selection of a particular service provider is the independent choice of the policyholder. Service providers are not affiliated with The Cincinnati Insurance Companies. Cincinnati and its employees make no warranties and assume no liability for services, products or loss control measures provided by service providers. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.