California Fires Will Alter Building Codes for New Homes

california wildfire nfpa

High-severity fire zones will expand in California.

From Ventura to San Diego, hundreds of thousands of homes are part of what is called the wildland/urban interface, where there is a higher risk of fire. According to a November 13 article by  in the Los Angeles Times:

For two decades state fire officials have been working to identify those vulnerable neighborhoods and tighten their defenses with fire-conscious building codes for new houses.  A Times analysis of the state’s maps for the highest-risk fire areas in Southern California shows about 550,000 residences covered by the zones. If areas with a lower but still significant fire risk were added, the number would roughly double.

Complicating the situation, some cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego have expanded the state’s fire zones to include many more homes, while others have not. The flaws in the mapping program reflect a conundrum officials face in modeling fire behavior. Unlike floods, which flow in predictable plains, fires behave more randomly, especially in the relatively rare instances when wind-blown embers move outside the wild land edge into residential areas.

“When you have wind and embers, that’s super hard to map … that’s a big gap in our knowledge about how to identify the risk in a more practical way,” said Michele Steinberg, wildfire division manager at the National Fire Protection Association.

Read the full article here.

Download NFPA’s Design With Fire in Mind: Three Steps to a Safer New Home. This useful resource explains the wildland/urban interface and how design best practices and fire codes can help mitigate losses to wildfires.

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