Home wildfire preparedness on a budget

Five homeowner tips

Five homeowner tipsThe Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety built a huge wind tunnel large enough to test how well houses stand up to very strong winds. Now they have put together a few tips for the homeowner who wants to reduce the chances of their home being destroyed during a wildfire without spending a lot of money:


Clean Roof
Not only does a clean roof look nice, but it can also reduce your wildfire risks. Embers can travel more than a mile from an actual fire, which can ignite combustible debris on your roof. Be sure to pay attention to areas where the roof meets a vertical surface, such as at a dormer. Also, be safe and never work on your roof if you are uncomfortable.

Clean Gutters
Have you cleaned your gutters lately? If not, they could be increasing your risk of wildfire damage. Gutters with combustible debris can be easily ignited by wildfire embers.

Clean Deck
Much like the roof and gutters, a deck full of combustible materials increases your risk of wildfire damage. Remember that patio furniture and lawn ornaments can also be combustible, so store them inside when you are not using the deck. In addition, removing combustible materials from under your deck is critical. If you do store combustible materials under your deck, enclosing the underside of the deck can be an option.

Carefully Position Yard Structures
Not only should combustible yard structures be placed away from your home, the area around them should also be maintained using noncombustible materials.

Relocate Propane and LP Tanks
Relocate your propane tanks at least 30 feet from your home. If this is not possible, create a 10-foot noncombustible zone around the tank.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Home wildfire preparedness on a budget”

  1. Bill: Thank you. No matter how intelligent, or lack thereof human beings are, it’s important we share our knowledge. Proper learning comes from presenting the information and then repetitive reminders. Blessings for the work you do on our behalf.

  2. “It won’t happen to me”. The chances of loosing your home to a wildfire in the next thirty years is one in fifty nine. With climate change, forest fuels in transition, more folks “moving in”, a lack of immediate initial attack by water/retardant dropping aircraft, the 1 in 59 number will almost certainly continue to become lower, or in other words, the odds are not in favor of the wildland resident.

  3. This is the sort of pithy crap that made me write a book! It’s useless “wisdom” tossed out to homeowners that really doesn’t help.

    1. Clyde: it is well known that embers landing in debris in gutters, on roofs, and on decks is a common mechanism for the ignition and eventual loss of structures during an ember storm from a wildfire that might be hundreds or thousands of feet away from the structure. If you think advising homeowners how to avoid this ignition mechanism is “pithy crap”, then you are in the minority. On March 6 we wrote about a Texas Forest Service publication named 2011 Texas Wildfires: Common Denominators of Home Destruction. I suggest you study it.

      On the other hand, if you are simply an internet troll trying to start a fight, then find another site for your input, and have a nice day.

    2. Clyde – ever spent any time on a wildfire as a Structural Protection Specialist, or even assigned to an Engine Crew doing structural protection? When you do, you’ll see that the items shown are just basic things that do make a difference, and if the homeowner can do them before the fire threatens their home, it makes our job way easier. But go ahead and write your book: there may some rays of wisdom you have that the rest of us have missed over these many years?


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