Apr 20, 2022 - News

How to harden your home against wildfires

Kaz Jaszczak stands on what used to be the back patio of his home that was destroyed by the Marshall Fire in Superior. Photo: Matthew Jonas/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Boulder County is devising new requirements to harden homes against wildfires in the wake of late December's Marshall Fire.

Driving the news: The county's review board wants newly built homes to include fire-resistant roofing and deck materials and ember-proof attic venting, the Colorado Sun reports.

Yes, but: The new building codes wouldn't apply to existing structures, and the rules may not cover all 40 structural vulnerabilities outlined in a recent federal study on how to harden homes.

  • As evidenced by the Marshall Fire, "the fuel that drives the fire is homes," the report's lead author, Alex Maranghides, tells Axios Denver.

What to do: Homeowners can take a handful of steps now to reduce the vulnerability of their homes affordably, a half-dozen fire experts tell us.

  • "A good place to start for homeowners … is to consider their roofs," says Chris Brunette with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. He recommends noncombustible cladding.
  • From there, ignition-resistant siding and composite deck material will reduce flammable sources, says Ashley Whitworth, wildfire mitigation administrator at the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
  • Installing 1/8th-inch mesh screening in the eaves of the attic will help prevent embers from drifting through the venting and igniting insulation, experts suggest.
  • Outside the home, keep trees and other vegetation at least 15 feet from structures.

The bottom line: "You spend a little more time up front, time and money and you'll have a house that lasts longer," says Jim Webster, a wildfire mitigation specialist with Boulder County.


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