How can Californians protect their homes from wild fires?
California is prone to wildfires and has suffered from many such fires over the last century. The fires may be caused and even accelerated by different factors. Wild fires appear to be increasing lately, with research showing that 1745 wild fires were reported between January and May 2020, while 2481 fires were reported within the same period in 2021. Wild fires affect California, but they have been reported to affect many other countries, even in Europe, such as Portugal.
The changing climate
Due to greenhouse emissions and global warming, the climate is rapidly changing and becoming even more unpredictable. There seem to be more dry days nowadays, leading to drying up vegetation, especially during summer. So in case of a fire, it rapidly spreads due to a lot of dry vegetation, acting as fire enablers.
Most of the time, fires are usually a result of human activity. Unattended fire, downed power lines, fireworks at parties are all factors that are favorable for the start and even spread of wildfires. People are also increasingly encroaching into forest land and living there, making their homes even more prone to wildfires.
Sometimes natural occurrences such as unusual lightning can cause wild fires if they strike dry vegetation. The vegetation then catches fire which rapidly spreads, especially if there is the wind blowing at the same time. The flames and embers can spread far and wide.
Ultimately, the prevention of wild fires is much easier and cheaper than the effort required in fighting and putting off such fires. A home can catch fire from flying embers of a fire, direct contact with the fire itself, and radiant heat from massive fires.
The primary reason why most homes burn from wild fires is usually lack of knowledge when building the house in the first place. If the contractors and engineers considered fireproofing the homes they are making, there would be lesser homes coming down in flames when wild fires occur. Before setting up a house, seek expert opinion from the firefighting department or fire proofing consultants as to how you can best safeguard your home from fire. Then make use of a unique blend of knowledge from the firefighters and the builders to ultimately develop informed choices of which materials to use and the best place to set up your house.
Fire-resistant roof coverings
When putting up roofs, one should consider the use of class "A" rated materials. The builder should also follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that the materials then serve their purpose. We should always try to use fireproof materials such as metal, asphalt or tile when putting up roofs.
One should ensure that combustible items are away from the vents in the house. Vents usually let in the air, which is essential for burning to take place.
Creation of a Defensible Zone
While vegetation in one's compound makes the home look beautiful, it is essential not to have vegetation very close to the house. This is the creation of a defensible zone around your house. If the vegetation catches fire, then it will not be easy for the fire to spread into the house as it first burns the vegetation and then meets an area of noncombustible material before it can get to the house. While landscaping your compound, it is wise to seek a professional opinion of how to safeguard your home against wild fires that are rampant nowadays.
Keep away embers
In case a wildfire is approaching. It is wise to shut all doors and windows. It will protect the house's interior from flying embers that can easily set an entire place ablaze. Unfortunately, many items inside a house are usually flammable. Thus if embers get the chance to blow inside, any home would be at risk of getting burnt down. It would be wise to use double-paned and tempered glass for windows, as they withstand heat pretty well.
Installation of Fire Sprinklers around the house
Fire sprinklers are installed and set to start sprinkling water around the house immediately after a fire or pre-determined high temperature is detected. Research has shown that fire sprinklers can effectively stop a possible fire if the water supply is reliable and adequate. The sprinklers will keep the area surrounding the house and the roof wet, thus deterring the fire from spreading.
Unity is of great importance here. If a neighbor's house catches fire, no matter how well prepared for the fire you may be, you are still at risk of having a fire in your home. It is crucial to have community-organized fire preparation. It ensures that each home in the community is well prepared in the event of wild fire and that if such an occurrence takes place, the entire neighborhood comes out and fights as one.
Some firefighters in Europe have also devised an interesting way of fighting the fire, whereby they light up a fire in an area considered a fire corridor. The fire burns up any vegetation that would otherwise have been fuel for a wildfire. Then it is put off. So when a wildfire is spreading, there is no material to burn when it reaches such an area, and therefore it dies off, having caused minimal harm. In my opinion, it is a way of European expertise in fighting wildfires.
Prevention of a fire is the way to go. Fighting fires is expensive and dangerous as well. If we can prevent the spread of wild fires, fire proof our homes, we will save our people's lives and resources.
Fire Prevention & Protection Consultancy | Project Management & Support | Bachelor of Science in Engineering Management | Member of NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)