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In recent years, it seems that every summer brings stories of
uncontrolled wildfires and homes in danger.
A Realty Times article explains this danger and how to protect your home.

Believe it or not, wildfire season is almost here. Wildfire season runs from April to August, although it sometimes extends into the fall if the conditions are right. Recent droughts and decreased snowpacks have increased the amount of wildfire fuel, such as dry grasses and brush.

If you live in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Florida or Washington, you are probably already aware of the dangers of wildfires. People who live in or near some of these wildfire-prone regions (or others not mentioned) need to take precautions to protect their homes. A combination of mitigation, design and construction with fire-resistant materials may make all the difference.

Mitigation involves creating a fire-resistant perimeter around your house. To do this, clear at least a 30-foot perimeter around your home of grass, brush and other highly flammable vegetation. This will help slow a fire’s advance and can create a defensible perimeter for firefighters. You can also get suggestions for fire-resistant vegetation and landscaping from your local nursery. Keep in mind, however, that a 30-foot perimeter may not be enough in some areas. Check into your local fire-related laws to make sure.

Your home’s design can also go a long way toward protecting against wildfire. Decks, eaves and crawl spaces all provide ways for fire to snake into and throughout your home. If you already have these features on your home, create barriers to fire by closing in decks with fire-resistant materials and screening attic vents, eaves and crawl spaces. If you live in an especially fire-prone area, consider installing a residential sprinkler system. These systems reduce the risk of fire deaths by 75 percent when combined with a smoke detector, and can also get you a discount on your homeowners’ insurance.

Your home’s building materials are also critical to fire protection. All materials in your home should be manufactured according to American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and assembled following International Conference of Building Officials’ (CBO), and adapted for your region. (Check out astm.org or iccsafe.org.) These materials are designed partly to enhance fire resistance, but there are additional steps you can take to go even further:

The best defense your home can have is a Class A roof, which is most effective at resisting wind-blown embers. The best Class A roofs are made of concrete, clay, slate, steel or aluminum. Class A roofs are also available in composites and treated wood shake, but keep in mind that these materials aren’t as fire-resistant as the other materials.

Like the roof, doors are also fire-rated. Solid wood doors are better than hollow ones, but metal doors are obviously the best. A good fire-resistant door should also have adequate weather stripping to prevent gasses or embers from seeping in.

Building codes usually require fire-resistant gypsum wall board in certain locations in your home, including between the garage and the main part of the house. If you undertake any home improvements, consider using it elsewhere, like walls, floors and ceilings. This will create a better fire barrier.

The kind of windows you have can also make a big difference. Energy-efficient, dual-glazed windows are more fire-resistant than single-glazed windows. Triple-paned, tempered glass, low-E and glass blocks are also highly efficient at fire protection. Shutters can also add an extra layer of protection, and any of these window options can provide you with an extra few minutes to escape a fire.

The exterior of your home should also add fire protection. Obviously, materials other than wood, such as stucco, stone and masonry, are better at preventing fire from entering the walls.


Even if you already own a home, you can enhance its fire resistance by incorporating some of these tips into your home improvement or renovation projects.

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