Home Hardening for Wildfire

This news video describes a live wildfire burn demonstration in Irvine, California, that highlighted the importance of fire-hardened homes and maintaining a 5-foot clearance around structures in fire-prone areas. Here are the key points from the video:


Demonstration Purpose: The demonstration aimed to showcase the significant difference in outcomes between a fire-hardened home with a 5-foot clearance around it and one without proper fire precautions.

Sponsors: The event was sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety and took place at the Orange County Fire Authorities headquarters and training facility.

Fire-Hardened Home: The first structure in the demonstration was built to be fire-hardened. It had a 5-foot-wide hardscape surrounding the building, desert-friendly landscaping with bark chips, enclosed eaves at the roofline, and a rod-iron fence attached to the structure.

Non-Prepared Home: The second structure represented a home where proper fire precautions had not been taken. It had bushes and bark chips in a planter right up to the side of the home, an attached wooden fence, and non-covered eaves.

Fire Ignition: Firefighters used drip torches to ignite the bark chips around both structures and activated large area fans to simulate 10 mph winds.

Outcome: After less than 30 minutes, the fire-hardened home remained virtually untouched due to the 5-foot clearance and other precautions. In contrast, the non-prepared home was a total loss.

Key Factors: The demonstration emphasized that the most significant difference in outcomes was the 5-foot clearance around the fire-hardened home. The non-prepared home’s proximity to flammable materials like mulch and plants next to the house contributed to its destruction.

Insurance and Regulation: California’s Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, stressed the importance of home hardening and mitigation, especially in fire-prone areas. Insurance companies are encouraged to offer discounts to homeowners who take proper precautions, and state law will soon require homeowners in such areas to maintain a 5-foot clearance around their homes.

Community Efforts: Lara emphasized the need for collaboration with insurance companies and neighbors to reduce the risk of wildfires and keep insurers writing policies for communities in high-risk areas.

Positive Impact: The article suggests that making small changes, such as maintaining a 5-foot clearance, can have a significant positive impact on protecting homes from wildfires, especially during the fire season.

This demonstration highlights the importance of proactive measures in wildfire-prone areas to protect homes and reduce the risk to both property and human life.