New California laws build on research into wildfire-resistant construction

Roofs are rated A, B, and C for their fire resistance, with about three-quarters of U.S. homes having roofs in Class A, the best rating.

Forget wooden shaking roofs starting July 1, 2021. At one point, the California Fire Code was adjusted once to allow treatment. But until next year they will be banned as adequate roofing.

Given that flying, burning embers have become so ubiquitous in gusty forest fires in recent years, Bill 38, drafted by Rep. Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, and signed a year ago, also requires that loopholes in the Interlocking ventilation slots installed in houses must change from one eighth of an inch to one sixteenth of an inch. Embers get through the ventilation slots into attics and ignite structures from the inside out.

A non-combustible siding must also be used, whether the material is metal, stucco, or fire-treated wood. In addition, Hawks recommended some property owners to successfully install shutters on their vents on the cabinet walls.

In windblown infernos, tempered glass has also been shown to be more resistant to the type of heat that comes with a raging fire. For durability, double panes are recommended when blowing out windows and blowing embers in when these flames approach.

“Most houses catch fire because of the embers,” he said.

“The two best things people can do are ‘curing at home’ – which means using refractory materials – and defensible space,” he said.

As the flames get bigger and wider each year, Hawks predicted that there may come a time when California may have to make the difficult decision of banning where homes and businesses can be built – especially in the WUI.

For example, the August Complex, which is still burning in seven counties, including Mendocino and Lake, has exceeded 1 million acres.

More than 2 million California buildings – one in four residential buildings – are in or in “high” or “very high” fire risk areas.

“We’re still working on the codes.” Hawks said.

Fire regulations can also affect property sales if owners want to offload their assets.

AB 38 stipulates that from January 1, 2021, a seller of “properties located in a zone with high or very high fire risk, if the house was built before January 1, 2020, provides the buyer with a mandatory disclosure notice is the language of the invoice.

The edition is not reserved for the Golden State. According to a Headwaters Economics study commissioned by the US Forest Service, the LOR Foundation, and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a third of all US homes are in the urban Wildland boundary. According to the Bozeman, Montana-based report, more than 35,000 buildings have been lost to wildfire in the past decade.

Aside from the lightning-related fires in Northern California in mid-August, human forest fires made up 84% of all forest fires in the United States from 1992 to 2012, resulting in the flames occurring in atypical locations and times, the study added.

The costs beyond pain and suffering are enormous. The price of the nation’s forest fire fight is rising. For the past decade, federal fire-fighting spending has cost taxpayers an average of $ 3.7 billion a year. Most alarmingly, federal managers attribute 50% to 95% of these repressive costs to protecting structures in the WUI.

Going the extra mile to prevent fires while leveling structures doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and can be built for “about the same cost as a typical house,” according to the study. In fact, some contractors, such as Farrow Construction, estimate that the cost of retrofitting a fire retardant building under certain circumstances would either be about 10% more, if not less.

In fact, the fire economics study found that the cost of a typical roof was $ 21,810. A Wildfire-resistant version would cost $ 27,670. The average deck price can be as high as $ 9,730, while a deck designed to ward off the threat may require an additional $ 2,000.

Still, fireproof exterior walls can cost an owner less. The study returned a price of $ 36,190, as opposed to a $ 48,380 bill for traditional siding, siding, doors, and windows.

“Wildfire-resistant materials can be the same, if not less, than traditional ones. The cost doesn’t have to be a ban, ”the insurance company’s Wildfire researcher Daniel Gorham told the Business Journal. “In the long run there is a cost saving.”

Gorham, a former firefighter, pointed out the high chances of getting a home or business on fire. There is a 90% chance that the structure will be set on fire as soon as embers land on or off of it, IBHS reported.

To prove this, the independent nonprofit dedicated to researching fire safety risks for communities created a model simulation in March 2019 that mimics active wildfire. Embers were poured into a duplex house in the organization’s test chamber in South Carolina. The house built with traditional materials had serious consequences compared to the one built with refractory components.

“The name of the game keeps the ignition off,” said Gorham. “It’s all about the embers and making sure they don’t have anything flammable to land on.”

Fire behavior prompts new research center

In the same year that more and more flames consumed the state, San Jose State University opened its interdisciplinary Wildfire Research Center on September 1, which includes the mobile Fire Weather Research Laboratory.

Kate Wilkin, a 20-year-old forest ecologist and SJSU professor who runs the center, highlighted how small changes to an owner’s environment can make a difference in saving a structure.

“Maintenance is the unsung hero here. When I was living in high risk of fire and received a red flag warning, I put my porch plants in the center of the yard and took the cushions off the chairs, ”she said.

It’s not because these items are particularly flammable. This is because the objects around them collect junk that can set a porch or deck on fire.

Craig Clements, director of the SJSU Fire Laboratory, pointed out that research and teaching are equally important in staving off fuel storms and drought.

“It’s only going to get worse. Unfortunately, people will not stop living in these environments. We can’t change the weather, but we have to stop (this fire destruction) for future generations, ”said Clements.

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