The Best Ways to Fireproof Your SoCal home
Living in Southern California is pretty heavenly. We have sun, sand, surf, little rain, enviable lifestyle, and much more. But we do get fires. Nasty ones. Deadly ones. We’ve all seen news footage of homes in and around Los Angeles completely razed to the ground and we hope that we won’t be victims one day. Or we get complacent thinking it couldn’t happen to us.
Well, it can. It doesn’t have to be a wildfire. Even a domestic fire near you can become a major problem, especially when we get conditions like hot, dry Santa Ana winds to fuel and spread fire.
Suddenly, your home that sits nowhere near forests or dry grass is in the line of… well… fire.
Start at the Top
The roof is the most vulnerable and common starting point for fire when burning embers blow around, sometimes for blocks. Get a roof made from fire rated ignition resistant materials. Spanish tiles can develop cracks and gaps that allow winds to blow embers inside. A new roof must interlock securely and be on top of a fire resistant cap sheet.
Have professionals install screens on your roof vents. These are simple, inexpensive, and close off a very common entry point for fire.
- Any fire resistant siding will help, and also give your home a facelift. Have remodeling experts look at eaves and overhangs. That includes balconies, soffits, even certain decks. Flames get hottest in these areas, so they need to be doubly protective and strong.
- Speaking of decks and balconies, if they’re combustible, replace them with something that isn’t. Combustible shade structures, fences and wood trellises close to your home will be a problem, also.
- Stairs of flammable materials should be replaced with stone, brick or concrete.
- Then ensure your windows are California Safe Windows. Heat can crack inferior windows, especially single glazed ones (go with double glazed with protective film). If they crack, fire gets more air to fuel it.
- Continuing with the exterior, doors to fireproof a SoCal home should be metal. That includes garage doors. Ensure they have draft seals to prevent embers entering.
- Then we come back to ember screens over vents – the ones near your home’s foundation/base, bathroom vents, kitchen vents, etc.
Keep a safe, clear area between your home and the surrounding vulnerable landscape. Keep gutters clear and trim back trees and bushes close to your home, especially on any upslopes to your SoCal home. (Fire travels up very quickly.)
Mother Nature can help in this area. Rearrange the landscaping with some fire resistant plants. These plants are high-moisture, grow low to the ground and have a low resin or sap content. They include rockrose, aloe, bush honeysuckles, and hedging roses.
Last on this list, ensure your driveways are wide, accessible and enable easy turning around. Anything to help the emergency services.
There are many other things you can do to fireproof your Southern California home. Some of them involve amazing new technological advances in materials, window designs, and more. Discuss them with SoCal remodeling and landscape gurus. We’ve all seen the “miracle” house that stands alone in a neighborhood devastated by fire… It’s not luck. Good fireproofing can make the difference between minor damage and total destruction.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RWT Design Construction.
UPDATE: December 2017
In light of the recent fire incidents, here is a resource from LaRocca Inspection Associates on what steps you can take to protect your home. Fire Safe Landscaping: click here: