Monday, May 25, 2015

FireSmart Building Materials

 Around the HouseFireSmart design standards recommended for the construction or retrofit of interface buildings.

Use only fire retardant roof covering materials rated at Class A, B, or C in interface areas. The Class A rating denotes lower combustibility; the Class C rating denotes higher combustibility.

The roof is most important in determining whether or not a fire will consume the building.

Roofing materials and cleanliness:
  • Is your roof covered with metal, tile, asphalt, ULC-rated treated shakes or non- combustible material.
  • Roof is clear of overhanging vegetation.
  • Combustible materials removed from roof (i.e. pine needles, leaves etc.).
  • Ensure the gutters are free of combustible material.
  • Does you chimney or stove pipe have an approved spark arrestor (12 gauge welded or woven wire mesh screen with mesh opening 12 millimeters or less) and above roof line.
  • Does your chimney outlet have at least 3 meters’ clearance from all vegetation and obstructions? 

Structural Options

With the exception of the roof, siding material is the structural component most vulnerable to fire. Firebrands can easily become fires if lodged in and against the structural exteriors.

  • Is your siding material stucco, metal, brick, cement shingles, concrete blocks, poured concrete or rock?

Eaves, Vents, and Openings:
While vents perform the important function of removing trapped moisture from attics, soffits and crawlspaces, they are ready-made openings that can allow heat and embers to enter a building and ignite it.

  • All eaves, attic and under floor openings should be closed.
  • Open vents should be screened with 3 millimeter wire mesh.
  • Provide interior access to attics and crawlspaces.

Balcony, Decks or Porch:
Stilt construction allows fire to get under overhangs and ignite the building. The fire danger further increases if vegetation, debris or stored combustibles accumulate under the overhang.

  • Ensure your balconies and decks are closed in.
  • Ensure you decking is flame-resistant materials.
  • Ensure you have access under your deck so to clean out any combustible material.

Windows and Door Glazing: 
Glass shattered by fire creates an opening in a building exterior that allows firebrands to enter the building so that it burns from the inside. Large windows are more venerable to fracture or collapse then smaller windows or multi-pane windows.

  • Clear concentrations of fuels within 10 metres of windows and glass doors.
  • Thermal pane or tempered glass windows provide increased protection.
  • Solid shutters will provide increased fire protection. (Should be made of non-flammable material, although 12 millimetre exterior-grade plywood can be used).

Locations of Nearby Combustibles:
Firewood, building material (and other combustible debris piles) neighboring buildings and wooden storage shacks are all serious fire dangers.

  • Ensure all piles of firewood and other combustibles are more than 10 metres away from buildings.

Suppression Equipment on Site:
The following items are fire suppression equipment that should be in an accessible location on your property:

  • Hand Tools (shovel, Pulaski, and rake).
  • Enough garden hose to reach roof top.
  • If your house does not have a pressurized water system, keep a water-filled 205-litre fire safety barrel close to building with a 10 litre pail attached.
  • Keep a rooftop access ladder and if possible a rooftop sprinkler system.

Download a Fact Sheet here