Six roof-to-foundation strategies for your home to cut wildfire risk

May 26, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

​Boost your home's wildfire resistance from the outside-in! Last month, Perspective shared tips to clear your property of combustibles like dry grass, woody forest floor debris and tightly spaced trees to starve a wildfire of its fuel sources. With those chores (hopefully) now done, it's time to focus on your home itself.

GettyImages-1219055575.jpgStarting at the ridgeline and working your way to the ground, these six steps will encourage a wildfire burn around – rather than through – your home:

1) Roof. 

Keeps gutters clear of dry leaves and needles. Trim branches that come within 10 feet to eliminate a fire pathway to the roof. Ensure that soffit vents are securely screened (1/8 inch) to prevent blowing embers from entering the attic. Fit your chimney with a 1/2-inch mesh spark arrestor. If you're planning a reroofing project, choose noncombustible materials like metal and tile.

2) Siding.

Create a 10-foot fuel-free buffer around your siding. That includes removing woodpiles stacked alongside the house. When replacing siding, choose nonflammable alternatives like cement fiber board.

3) Windows. 

Replace single-pane with dual-pane windows or, better yet, tempered glass, which is four times more resistant to heat breakage. Replace domed skylights, which are typically plastic, with flat, tempered-glass skylights. By keeping your windows intact, you help ensure that blowing embers don't reach your home's interior and its many combustible surfaces.

4) Deck. 

Remove accumulated fuel sources underneath (old boards tucked out of sight, etc.) and screen in the area below decks to keep out blowing embers. When building a new deck, use a fire-resistant material rated Class A, like PVC or fire-retardant treated wood.

5) Foundation. 

Ensure that crawl-space vents are screened with 1/8-inch mesh to prevent blowing embers from igniting under your home.

6) Fences. 

Wood fencing that connects to your home or outbuildings can lead fires straight to your structure. A metal shield attached to the house can create a break as can a metal gate attached to the house.

Although wildfire has evolved from an urban-wildland interface problem to a concern for Northwesterners everywhere, there's still plenty you can do to tip the odds in your favor. To learn more, see our wildfire blog. And watch next month's Perspective when we'll share tips for fire-safe(r) ways to enjoy the outdoors.

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