Issue # 26: Fire Resistant Construction
ISSN 1703-5597
March 17, 2004


Contents:
Issue #26 Fire Resistant Construction

  1. The Basics: BC Outline, Glossary, Fighting Fires
  2. Planning: Location, Hazard Assessment, Checklist
  3. Design & Details: Survivors, Details, Virtual Tour
  4. Structural Products: Wood, Concrete, Steel
  5. Landscaping: Defensible Space, Plants, Soil Erosion
  6. Be Prepared: Personal Plan, Inventory, Community
  7. More: BC Firestorms, Fire Conditions, Newsletter
  8. Ken’s Top Pick: If You Have Time To Surf Only One Site

1. The Basics: BC Outline, Glossary, Fighting Fires

Outline For Building & Living In The Forest Interface (PDF FILE)
Totally relevant to BC, this is the booklet by Bryan Shrake covering fire description, insurance, alerts, pre-planning, pets/livestock, construction and local anecdotes. Good stuff.

Glossary Of Fire Terms
If you want to know what the more common wildfire terms mean then check out this PBS site from their documentary called Fire Wars, a story about wildland firefighters.

How We Fight Fires
Every year we have about 2,500 wildfires in BC. If you want to know what starts them, how they are reported, and how we fight them, visit this section of the BC Ministry Of Forests site.


2. Planning: Location, Hazard Assessment, Checklist

Fire Behaviour & Building Location (PDF FILE)
To understand how wildland fires burn and how the location of a building affects its likelihood of survival, take a look at chapters 2 and 3 of the online Firewise Construction book.

Home Wildfire Hazard Assessment
To calculate the level of wildfire hazard for a particular home just answer the twelve questions on this online checklist from the BC Ministry Of Forests Protection Branch Web site.

Homeowners Checklist (PDF FILE)
California Forestry & Fire Protection has an easy-to-read 2-page checklist on how to make your home fire safe, including tips for both the inside and the outside of the building.


3. Design & Details: Survivors, Details, Virtual Tour

Fire Resistance: Houses That Survived
By studying houses that survived a California firestorm, some key lessons were learned about specific building details that can withstand heat. Fine Homebuilding outlines them here.

Building Design & Construction Details (PDF FILE)
Chapter 5 of the Firewise Construction booklet (with drawings) provides good details for the design and construction of roofs, decks, walls, windows and doors.

Virtual Tour Of Firewise Home
Take a virtual, visual tour of a Firewise home from all sides on this Firewise site. Click on the arrows to move around the house and read the notes about each feature on the left side.


4. Structural Products: Wood, Concrete, Steel

Wood & Fire Safety
The Canadian Wood Council site offers lots of information on the fire safety and fire resistance of wood structures, interior finishes, treated wood, and non-combustible buildings.

Concrete Homes
Fire resistance of concrete homes and the fire properties of foam insulated concrete forms are explained in this technology brief from the Portland Cement Association.

Steel
If you want details on the use of steel for residential framing, the NAHB PATH site has a summary and a link to a more in-depth document on steel’s fire and acoustical properties.


5. Landscaping: Defensible Space, Plants, Soil Erosion

Defensible Space Landscaping
To decide on the best way to calculate, design, build and maintain defensible landscaping just follow this six-step guide (pictures & charts) from the Colorado State University.

Fire Resistant Plants
As you can imagine, not all plants are appropriate for fire prone areas. The BC Ministry Of Forests lists the trees, shrubs, vines and perennials that you should consider using.

Soil Erosion Control After Wildfire
A serious threat after a fire can be created from soil erosion caused by hydrophobic soils. Here at the University of Arizona site you can find out about various control techniques.


6. Be Prepared: Personal Plan, Inventory, Community

Personal Planning
Your risk of losing life and property to wildfire can be significantly reduced if you follow these five steps as outlined on the BC Ministry Of Forests Web site.

Household Inventory
A major challenge after a disaster is trying to list household inventory. Plan ahead with this form from Aviva Canada. Click on the link at the bottom to the right of “Household Inventory”.

Community Plans (PDF FILE)
Case studies of seven communities that have minimized the risk to wildfire are presented in this chapter of the FireSmart Book from Alberta-based Partners In Protection.


7. More: BC Firestorms, Fire Conditions, Newsletter

BC 2003 Firestorm Recommendations
Here is a summary of the recommendations from the BC Firestorm 2003 Provincial Review Team that was formed as a result of last year’s serious fires throughout our province.

Current Fire Conditions
If you ever want to know about the current BC fire danger levels, bans on fires, or news on fires check out the Wildfire News section of the BC Ministry Of Forests site.

Online Newsletter
Wildfire News & Notes is a free, quarterly online publication from the US that provides updates on the Firewise program and wildland related fire news. Past issues are archived here.


8. Ken’s Top Pick: If You Only Have Time To Surf One Site

BC Ministry Of Forests Protection Branch
The BC Ministry Of Forests Protection Branch is the best site that I found for local information on fire safety, prevention, construction, and local fire hazards. Here is their full site map.


Dittie For Today: On Motivation
Make your life a mission, not an intermission.
      -
Arnold H. Glasgow




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