Now that climate change is increasing the intensity of natural disasters such as wildfires, researchers are focusing on making homes fire resistant, according to CNBC.
Last year, wildfires razed more homes and buildings in the U.S. than any other year in history, and according to Roy Wright, CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, “There is no reason to think they are going to get better.”
Last year, just two wildfires in California destroyed 14,000 homes. Wildfire damage to homes and commercial properties in the state totaled approximately $19 billion. Because there is less rain in California and more droughts, there is now more combustible material and a higher chance of wildfires.
Colorado, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina have a similar issue, as they face increasingly destructive wildfires in states dense with homes and buildings.
Wright’s insurance institute built two test homes, one without fire-resistant materials, and one with. The researchers demonstrated how quickly the non-resistant one erupted in flames compared to the resistant one, which did not burn at all. The fire resistant home used fiber cement composite as siding rather than wood shingles or planks. Metal gutters rather than vinyl gutters also mitigates risk, as metal will not melt from flying embers. Windows and doors were double paned in the resistant house, because single-paned glass would break.
Landscaping is also key, as the fire resistant home used rocks instead of the typical mulch. The resistant home also had its plantings at least five feet away from the siding, and the siding was raised off the ground six inches.
The cost of fireproofing a home is the same, or sometimes slightly less, than the cost of building the average home. While the different gutters and vents would be an added expense, cement siding is less expensive than wood siding.