Create a Fire-Resistant Home

During wildfires, embers, or burning pieces of wood, are transported through the air increasing the rate of fire spread. Embers can ignite a fire more than 2 miles from the fire front. Embers find the weak spots in your home’s fire protection scheme. Harden your home to reduce your risk, and build frequent fuel removal into your maintenance routine. 

Tour your property and take an inventory of the conditions. Some of the recommendations take time, while others require a financial investment. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

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Make sure to remove receptive fuel beds around your home along the following*: 

A. DECKS: 

Construct your deck with materials like metal or ignition-resistant lumber/composites. Embers often fall through gaps in planks; it’s critical to remove all combustible materials under and around your deck. 

B. ROOFS:

Protect your most vulnerable surface. Regularly inspect points of ember entry like roof valleys, protrusions like chimneys and skylights, rain gutters and shingles. Install metal drip edge on the roof and metal flashing around protrusions. 

C. GUTTERS:

Screen or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris, i.e. fuel. Ensure unscreened or open gutters are cleaned regularly. 

D. EAVES:

Enclose eaves to prevent ember intrusion. Regularly clear debris. 

E. VENTS:

Vents located on a vertical wall, including crawl space vents (foundation vents), gable end vents, and other openings such as dryer vents, will be very vulnerable to the entry of wind-blown embers. Cover all vents with corrosion-resistant 1/8 metal mesh screens to guard these points of entry. When you can afford to, purchase new vents with exterior baffles and auto-shutting mechanisms when exposed to heat. 

F. WALLS AND FENCING:

Build or remodel with nonflammable materials like brick, masonry, cement or stucco. Regularly clear fuel from the base of your fence. Remove wooden fences touching your home; replace with a metal fence or gate. 

G. WINDOWS AND DOORS:

Use dual-paned windows with tempered glass. Seal gaps in garage doors with weather proofing to reduce ember intrusion. 

H. DRIVEWAYS AND ROADS:

Remove fuel alongside your roadways so you may exit and emergency responders may enter. Clear a minimum of 10 ft of vegetation on the shoulder. Trim shrubs and trees overhanging the roadway to a minimum of 15 ft. Create an ongoing clearing strategy with members of shared, private roads. 

I. INVEST IN REFLECTIVE SAFETY ADDRESS SIGNS: 

A well-marked address saves precious time during an emergency. Reflective signs are available at the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, $35 single-sided, and $40 double-sided. 

*Reproduced with permission from the National Fire Protection Association, copyright © 2019, NFPA, Quincy, MA.  All rights reserved.  This material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which can be obtained through the NFPA web site at www.nfpa.org