Our increasingly hot and dry planet means wildfires will likely continue to threaten the homes and lives of humans.
In 2018, California saw some of the largest and most destructive fires in the state’s history. Although we may not be able to build a completely fire-proof home, researchers continue to push the boundaries of fire-proofing. A team of researchers from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recently demonstrated the latest in fire-resistant home innovations.
“During 2018, wildfire caused more loss of life and more property damage than any other weather-driven peril in the U.S., including two major hurricanes,” Roy Wright, CEO and President of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) said in a statement. “These wildfires are becoming far more severe. Yet there are practical steps that can be taken by individual property owners, community planners, and state and federal leaders to reduce our collective risk from wildfire and make our neighborhoods safer and more resilient.”
Some of the solutions identified by IBHS are as simple as including a five-foot buffer zone between your house and any landscaping. Other solutions include a fiber cement composite siding, which is less combustible than traditional materials, metal gutters, to reduce the risk of embers being caught and later igniting a home, dual-paned glass windows, and a fiberglass door.
There is even a financial incentive to build more fire-resistant homes, as massive fires continue to rack up insurance claims The cost to build a fire-resistant home can be about the same or even less the cost of a traditional home thanks to the less expensive siding.
Turning up the Heat
“There is no reason to think [wildfires] are going to get better,” said Wright, “You look at this kind of impact — the variations in the climate we have had, we are far more susceptible to the size and intensity of fires.”
The future is only getting hotter. Before we face unpleasant situations like a future without clouds, we need to rethink our planning, particularly when extreme weather events, like wildfires, are only becoming more common. While repairing the damage to our ecosystems will take time, smarter home construction offers a more immediate way to make our future a little more fire-resistant.