We are committed to helping their insureds, brokers and program administrators stay one step ahead of risk and as prepared as possible for adverse events. If you are in an area that could be exposed to a potential wildfire, the following are some general suggested tips and actions to consider taking before a wildfire strikes.
Take these actions on a regular basis to help reduce the risk of ignition on or around your structures.
Wildfires can be intense, unpredictable, and devastate large areas in a small span of time. There are about 45 million structures exposed to wildfires that can impact a wide area disrupting key infrastructure and creating business interruption potential.
- Replace wood roofs and box-in open wooden eaves with fire-resistant materials. Fire resistant roof materials include Class A asphalt shingles, metal, slate, clay tile, DaVinci, Cedar shake, and concrete products. During a wildfire, the roof is the most vulnerable part of a structure. Open wood eaves will trap flying, embers, heat, and gases leading to combustion. If the roof consists of barrel tile install bird stops to cover these gaps and prevent embers from igniting the roof.
- Install no larger than 1/8’’ metal mesh in all ventilation openings to make your structures more fire resistant. Installing metal mesh smaller than 1/8" may easily clog during painting, and with normal wind-blown debris.
- Clear leaf debris, pine needles and other debris from the roof and gutters. This will reduce the risk of embers igniting combustible material on or near your roof. Installing metal gutter guards can reduce future build-up of combustible debris.
- Trim all large trees that overhang the roof of your structures. In the event of a wildfire, overhanging trees can also become fuel ladders, with their limbs providing direct access for fire to reach your structures. These limbs should be trimmed 4’ off the roof of any structure.
- Remove all dead material within any vines that are attached to the structure and cut them away from the roof of any structure. Vines growing on any structures are made up of leafy material, throughout the season these dry and fall off, building up dead leaf beds. If an ember from a wildfire were to land in this area, it would ignite and in turn put the structures at risk.
- Installing spark arrestors in all wood burning chimneys will reduce the potential of vegetation catching fire. In addition, remove all vegetation within 10’ of the chimney outlet.
- Clear combustible materials beneath any attachment. This area should be kept free of rubber mulch, dry mulch, pine straw, ground litter, wood piles, wood pallets and anything that could ignite.
- To reduce ember penetration, replace or repair loose or missing roof shingles or tiles, and caulk any gaps or openings on roof edges and/or siding. Replace all rotten wood on your structures and seal any exposed undamaged wood.
- Replace windows made of single-pane glass or plastic including skylights with double-pane or tempered glass. Double-pane or tempered glass resists heat and shattering better than single-pane or plastic materials. Exposure to heat can cause windows made of single-pane glass or plastic to shatter or melt.
- Install and/or relocate outside fuel tanks at least 25’ away from any structures and aligned so that the ends of any tank are not directed at any building, reducing the possibility of a fire at the fuel tank spreading to surrounding buildings/structures. Coordinate with your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) officials to develop a wildfire preparedness/mitigation plan and wildfire response plan.
- Maintain proper fire department access and install a street address sign that is clearly labeled, visible from the road, and made of non-combustible material. This will increase the potential for them to save your structures.
- Remove all combustible ground litter within 5’ of any structure and/or replace it with a more fire-resistive material. Combustible ground littler consists of rubber mulch, wood mulch, pine straw, ground litter. Safer examples include river rock, stone, decomposed granite, lava rock, and bare mineral soil.
- Keep flammable vegetation away from your propane tanks, water tanks, and solar panels. Solar panels can be damaged or destroyed by flames or extreme radiant heat. Propane tanks have the potential to explode if subjected to extreme heat and water tanks made of plastic can melt.
- Clear any highly flammable shrubs, trees, brush, native grasses taller than 4” in length, and debris within 10’ of all structures. The 0-10’ zone around your structures is a critical area that is susceptible to both embers and surface fires. Examples of flammable landscaping include Italian Cypress, Junipers, Cedars, Eucalyptus, Exotic Ornamental Grasses, Acacia, Rosemary, and Oleander.
- Move wood piles 30’ away from any structure or cover with a fire-resistant tarp.
- The 5-30’ perimeter immediately surrounding your structures and/or chairlifts should be either bare mineral soil, well-irrigated and planted with green lawn, or low-growing fire-resistant vegetation. Shrubs and bushes should be fire-resistant and trimmed. In addition, trees should be properly spaced to allow for vertical separation, limbed-up 6 to 10’ from the ground, and free of any combustible undergrowth or debris. No tree branches should hang over or come in contact with any portion of any structure.
- Within 30-100’, all brush and undergrowth should be thinned and/or replaced with high-moisture-content and fire-resistant plant materials. In addition, dead or low-hanging branches should be removed. Increasing the spacing between certain highly flammable trees can reduce the threat of a crown fire and has the benefit of promoting forest health.
- Trim the treetops of flammable trees within 100’ of any structure so they are a minimum of 15’ apart, or strategically remove trees to provide similar protective spacing. During a wildfire with the right conditions of topography, weather, and fuels, certain trees can spread flames easily from one tree canopy to another. Closely spaced and connected fuel sources like this provide a conduit for fire to reach your structures.
Visit https://disastersafety.org/wildfire/protect-your-business-from-wildfire/ to learn more about reducing the threat of wildfire damage and protecting your business.
The information, suggestions and recommendations contained herein are for general informational purposes only. This information has been compiled from sources believed to be reliable. Risk Consulting Services do not address every possible loss potential, law, rule, regulation, practice or procedure. No warranty, guarantee, or representation, either expressed or implied, is made as to the correctness or sufficiency of any such service. Reliance upon, or compliance with, any recommendation in no way guarantees any result, including without limitation the fulfillment of your obligations under your insurance policy or as may otherwise be required by any laws, rules or regulations. No responsibility is assumed for the discovery and/or elimination of any hazards that could cause accidents, injury or damage. The information contained herein should not be construed as financial, accounting, tax or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
This document is not intended to replace any recommendations from your equipment manufacturers. If you are unsure about any particular testing or maintenance procedure, please contact the manufacturer or your equipment service representative.
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