Hardening your home
Here are ways you can harden your home and make it more fire resistant.
10 Low-Cost Retrofits to Your Home
- The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Build your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.
- Vents on homes create openings for flying embers.
- Cover all vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh. Do not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.
- Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block embers (mesh is not enough).
Eaves and Soffits
- Eaves and soffits should be protected with ignition-resistant* or non-combustible materials.
- Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home is on fire. This allows burning embers to enter and start fires inside. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable.
- Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire.
- Consider limiting the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.
- Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are flammable and not good choices for fire-prone areas.
- Build or remodel your walls with ignition resistant* building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials.
- Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.
- Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant*, non-combustible, or other approved materials.
- Ensure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.
- Keep rain gutters clear or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.
- Use the same ignition-resistant* materials for patio coverings as a roof.
- Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.
- Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hose available for fire emergencies.
- Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in.
- Store all combustible and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.
- Consider using ignition-resistant* or non-combustible fence materials to protect your home during a wildfire.
Driveways and Access Roads
- Driveways should be built and maintained in accordance with state and local codes to allow fire and emergency vehicles to reach your home. Consider maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side, allowing for two-way traffic.
- Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.
- Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
- Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road.
- Consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures on your property. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.
*Ignition-resistant building materials are those that resist ignition or sustained burning when exposed to embers and small flames from wildfires. Examples of ignition-resistant materials include “non-combustible materials” that don’t burn, exterior grade fire-retardant-treated wood lumber, fire-retardant-treated wood shakes and shingles listed by the State Fire Marshal (SFM) and any material that has been tested in accordance with SFM Standard 12-7A-5.