RICHBURG, S.C., — During wildfires, as many as 90% of homes and buildings damaged or destroyed were first ignited by embers or other fires set by embers, and not the main wildland fire front. Yet many home and business owners do not take practical, affordable steps to help reduce the risk posed by these flying embers.
On March 6, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) simulated an active wildfire, casting embers at a duplex house structure in our South Carolina test chamber. The house was built and landscaped on one side as a wildfire-resistant structure, and on the other side with common materials used when wildfire resistance is not a consideration. The wildfire-resistant side did not burn.
“It’s all about the embers and making sure they have nothing combustible to land on,” said Daniel Gorham, P.E., wildfire researcher at IBHS. Embers can fly for miles ahead of the wildfire front. If they get inside a home through vents or an open or broken window, or if they land on dead vegetation, dry wood, or combustible materials near the home, they can ignite a new fire which can then consume that home and start a chain of fires within a neighborhood or community.
Property owners can defend their property against wildfire in two important ways: maintenance and materials. Here is a simple list of the “Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Property From Wildfire”.
Think you can’t afford it? Think again. The cost of many noncombustible building materials is the same or less than typical materials. Headwaters Economics and IBHS published this study finding negligible cost differences between a typical home and a home constructed using wildfire-resistant materials and design features.
Video and pictures from the IBHS demonstration are available along with consumer-friendly information and recommendations on decks, fences, fire-retarding gels and much more.
About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
IBHS’ mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. To learn more about IBHS, please visit IBHS.org.
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SOURCE Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety