Keeping our homes from burning

We love revealing myths. Let’s reveal some myths about causes of fire. If you own a home or are thinking of building a home or an accessory dwelling unit, spend 8 minutes on this video.

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30% of US homes are in Wild Urban Interface zone (a.k.a. WUI zones). These are borderline zoned between wilderness and developed land, most jurisdictions (see an example from Santa Clara County here) have maps that will show you which zone your house is located in.

Early December 2020 we had an event, where the guest speaker was Richard Halsey, a writer, photographer, and the director of the California Chaparral Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to the preservation of native shrubland habitats throughout North America and supporting the creative spirit as inspired by the natural environment.

The second edition of his book, “Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California,” was published in 2008.

Our favorite quote from the event: Plan the future from the future.

With Rick, we have learnt about natural fires (yes, Nature thought of that too). Spoiler alert: prevent your home from embers, not from wall of fire.

We heard some new ideas of how to keep your house safe. Start with fire and ember resistant vents to prevent embers to getting inside the attic and to keep a home from burning from the inside. Here is a novel idea: wet homes do not burn.

Here are other ideas to think about ( and this is the link for the full recording):

Think of fire as you think of rain. It’s going to happen.

House ignites trees, not the other way around.

What is proper vegetation management? Thinning, not clearing.

Join our controversial conversation about sprinklers – not interior sprinklers. Exterior sprinklers.

Protecting your home with your pool – hook up exterior sprinklers to your pool with an independent system. Scroll down for exterior fire sprinkler options.

Using best practices from the event, HomeWiP is now designing a unit that has both interior and exterior fire sprinklers. You can send your questions to

Your Fire Protection District might be providing you and your neighbors with “prescribed burns” to be conducted in or around your neighborhood in spring. A prescribed burn is a planned fire that is controlled to reduce hazardous vegetation near developed areas while mitigating potential wildfire threat to our community. Substantial vegetation management is conducted over the winter months to create an adequate shaded fuel break behind your neighborhood. Removal of potentially hazardous vegetation resulting from such a project will be gathered into multiple small burn piles that the fire department will ignite when safe conditions allow. Ideally, the prescribed burns take place in the March or early April time frame.

If you are looking for more supplies to protect your home, check out Brandguard wildfire rated vents and Frontline wildfire defense system.

Brandguard offers undereave, foundation, dormer, ridge and gable vents, as well as fire plugs for underage openings. Their products are listed by the California Office of the State Fire Marshal.The state requires that your vents be protected against flying embers, flames and radiant heat.

Brandguard vents allow for ventilations while at the same time keeping out embers, rodents, pests, hurricane-grade driving rain and snow (if relevant). Their products work for new construction and retrofits.

The product was designed by a firefighter who saw firsthand the vulnerability of thousand homes affected by California wildfires of 2003 and 2007.

Frontline Wildfire Defense System is an exterior fire sprinkler system that protects your home during a wild fire. It can be activated remotely, uses firefighting foam and can be architecturally concealed if done at the construction stage. The foam used is 5 times more effective than water alone. This Class A foam is environmentally friendly, biodegradable and approved by the US Forest service.

Certain insurance companies give credit for installing these systems in their risk and underwriting assessment.

The exterior sprinkler systems, fire resistant vents, defensible space, fire resistant building materials and community preparedness programs are all complementary solutions to mitigate risk. Stay prepared and stay safe.

Your broker is cancelling your insurance? Get them to sign up for a service that makes fire insurance affordable – Delos provides insurance for low-risk homes in wildfire areas because we’re the only company that knows which homes are actually low-risk.

Are you interested to hear more on the subject from University of Berkeley? The university has accumulated a lot of resources on the subject that can be found on the dedicated website.

And finally, please see below the presentation by Matteo Garbelotto of University of California at Berkeley – more in depth analysis of what is happening, why and how to prepare.

P.S. Some food for thought:

P.S.S. Here is from StateFarm, an insurance company that still offers fire insurance: If you have time to prepare your home (in case of a wildfire event), close all vents and windows, shut all shutters and blinds to reduce radiant heat, shut off any gas or oil fuels supplies and douse your home with hoses and lawn sprinklers for as long as possible.

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