Home Hardening 

What is Home Hardening?
 

Home hardening is preparing your home before a wildfire starts. This involves installing or retrofitting a home with ignition-resistant materials so your home can survive a wildfire. Embers, radiant heat, and direct flame contact are the three main ways a wildfire can impact your home.

 

Up to 90% of home igntions from wildfires are caused by embers*. Embers land on your home and can land in areas that are vulnerable to ignition. In that absence of fire response, these embers can sustain ignition and can cause serious damage or complete destruction. For more information, please visit the Firewise Fact Sheet Series.

Email livingwithwildfiremt@gmail.com to schedule a site visit with a professional.

*Source: https://ibhs.org/wildfire/wildfire-demo-2019/

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Click the PDF below to download the structure protection assessment form

Image courtesy of Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW).

ROOFS

 

Facts: 

  • Many homes that ignite in wildland-urban interface fires burn from the top down. The roof is the most critical area to pay attention to.

  • Roofing materials or the combustible roof decking are highly vulnerable to wildfire ignition.

  • Homes can be tested in effectiveness to fire severity and ignition-resistant roofs: 

 

Recommended roofing materials include: 

  • Asphalt shingles

  • Metal/stone-coated materials

  • Concrete (standard weight & lightweight)

  • Clay tile

  • Synthetic

  • Slate

  • Hybrid composite

 

What you can do:

  • Annually remove debris, such as needles, branches, leaves, etc. on roofs and gutters.
  • Due to birds and rodents building nests, ensure roofs have no missing shingles or gaps.
  • Embers may penetrate through gaps causing an ignition-source.
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STRUCTURE VENTS AND EAVES

 

Facts: 

  • 1/8" metal screening over all structure vents is recommended to prevent ember entry.

  • Embers less than 1/8 inches do not have enough heat energy to ignite insulation in attics.  

  • 1/8" metal screening will attract some debris. Cleaning off the vent is necessary during fire season.

Recommended screen and eave mitigation includes: 

  • Box-in or enclose eaves and soffits.

  • Screen attic vents with 1/8" metal screening.

What you can do:

  • Avoid using attics as storage space for combustible materials.

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WINDOWS AND FRAMES

 

Facts: 

  • Window frames should be composed of ignition-resistant materials such as metal or Aluminum. 

  • Extreme temperatures fluctuations may cause windows to break or crack.

  • Dual paned windows provide superior protection from wildfire. 

Window materials include: 

  • Double-pane or tempered pane windows are recommended.

  • Window frames should be composed of ignition-resistant materials 

What you can do:

  • Consider limiting the number and size of windows that face large areas of vegetation

  • Reduce vegetation next/under windows especially if you have single pane windows.

  • During a wildfire close all windows, doors, garages and other openings to prevent embers from blowing in.

Stacks of Windows

EXTERIOR WALLS AND SIDING

 

Facts: 

  • Embers can become trapped in cracks in walls and the siding assembly.

  • The fire resistance of exterior walls depends primarily on the construction materials of the walls and the vegetation adjacent to the home's siding.  

Exterior walls and siding materials include: 

  • Materials for ignition-resistant structures: 

  • Stone/Rock

  • Stucco

  • Cement board

  • Heavy timber 

What you can do:

  • Inspect siding annually for any cracks/gaps in the siding and fill in with a mortar mix if needed

  • Replace wood shake/vinyl siding with fiber cement board siding.

  • Remove flammable vegetation within 0-5 feet of siding.

DECKS

 

Facts: 

  • Decks are a highly flammable house attachment and when ignited will provide a source of radiant heat and likely direct flame contact to the siding of the home.

  • Utilizing TREX decking is recommended for WUI residents in Missoula County.

Deck materials include: 

  • TREX decking is ignition resistant.

  • Other wood composite materials

  • Fire resistant stains/water applied to an all wood deck.

  • Deck posts are of ignition resistant material.

Under the deck: 

  • Screen or Box in short decks to keep embers/debris from blowing underneath

  • Do not store flammable materials under the deck.

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What you can do:

  • Avoid storing materials under decks.

  • Create a 0-5 foot noncomubstible area around the deck.

  • Utilizing thick lumber or wood composites are recommended.

NEAR-BUILDING NONCOMBUSTIBLE ZONE

 

Facts: 

  • This zone is 5 feet wide around the base of all structures.

  • It is designed to protect the building from ignition that can result from wind-blown embers that can accumulate at the base of the exterior wall. 

  • Additionally it protects the building from exposure to radiant heat or direct flame contact that would occur due to the ignition of combustible materials located near the building or under an attached deck.

Noncombustible materials include: 

  • Stone, rock, sand, bare soil, and short green grass around the first 5 feet around all structures.

  • Fire resistant or adapted plant species.

    • These are plants that are high in moisture content, non-resinous (willow, poplar, etc.), grow with little accumulation of dead material, plants with woody stems.

    • Native Firewise Plant Species

What you can do:

  • Do not store lumber, firewood or other combustible materials within this zone.

  • Use noncombustible fence material within 5 feet of the structure.

  • Create a 5 foot wide noncombustible zone around all structures and use native firewise plant species.

These are a few key places to start for home hardening.

 

For more information, visit National Fire Protection Association