Is your home ready for the So Cal Wildfire Season? It may seem a bit early to think about it. After all, the normal wildfire season doesn’t even begin until October, with the arrival of the ever so popular (insert sarcasm here) Santa Ana winds, but we have to remember that it sometimes shows up early, especially when we have high temperatures and dry spells, which we usually do. And, since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we wanted to share these tips early so you can get an jumpstart over the summer and will be totally prepared when the Orange county fire season roll around.
Something important to note, if you’re considering a home remodel, now is the perfect time to look at the overall construction of your home and find places where fire-resistant materials can help you prepare for the worst.
There are several upgrades that can be made to a home which can help to make it more fire-resistant from windows to landscaping. Here are a few suggestions to consider:
Roofing – Any home’s most important defense is the roof. A Class A roof made of steel, aluminum, concrete, clay or slate will help to ward off the hot embers emitted from a nearby foliage fire.
Ceilings, Walls, and Floors – Fire-resistant gypsum wall board can be used in walls, floors and ceilings to create a stronger and longer lasting fire barrier.
Landscaping – What grows around your home can also be your first line of defense against wildfires. Many plants are simply fuel for a fire, however, there are those which can help save your home. Plants that should go include pines, cypresses, junipers and eucalyptus. Also get rid of shrubs near your home such as ornamental grasses, acacias, hopseed and berry vines. Vegetation that retains water such as ice plant, California lilac, Carmel creeper, ivy geranium and sedums are wonderful ground cover which can help to hold off a fire.
Decks – While providing the perfect family gathering spot to enjoy the gorgeous California weather, decks are an easy fuel source for wildfires. Fire retardant wood should be used to build the deck and then covered with a fire-resistant polyurethane coating. You can also isolate the deck from the fuels and fire by building a noncombustible patio and wall below it. The patio prevents combustible materials from getting below the deck. The wall helps shield the deck from both the radiant and convective energy of the fire.
Exteriors – Splurge on the stone, stucco, masonry and other exterior alternatives instead of wood. Though more expensive, they can provide up to a two-hour fire rating which could save your home and, most importantly, your life.
Windows – Recently we’ve all heard a lot about the energy efficiency of dual- glazed windows but many people don’t think about the safety. During past wildfires, the exterior pane of many dual-glazed windows cracked but their interior pane held. Dual or triple-glazed windows with tempered glass and Low-E coating will add fire-resistance to your home by keeping out the radiant energy that can heat up indoor combustibles such as fabrics and wood, causing them to catch fire.
Doors – Just like roofing materials, doors are also fire rated. Metal doors are always best with a longer fire rating but if wood doors are a must-have, consider going with solid wood doors instead of hollow core ones. Regardless of your choice you must ensure that adequate weather stripping is installed on all exterior doors to keep out hot gasses and tiny burning embers during a fire.
Venting – Vents should not be located in roof eaves or cornices or in the underside or on exposed edges of decks. Required individual venting at gable ends and on roofs should be covered with a 1 ¼” mesh screen to keep out embers.
The Orange County Fire Authority’s pre-fire management department is responsible for protecting Orange County’s wild land and open space areas, as well as nearby communities from the devastating effects of wildfire. We suggest that you schedule a “free home assessment” with the Orange County Fire Authority. When scheduled, an OCFA Fire Prevention Specialist will come to your home to suggest landscaping tips and exterior construction features to make your home more wildfire resistant.
For questions regarding vegetation management, defensible space, home hardening or fuel modifications, or to schedule a free home assessment, please contact the Orange County Fire Authority’s pre-fire management department directly HERE.
If you’d like to find out how we can help make your home safer during the wildfire season Contact Us or give us a call at 714-558-1094.