One of the most devastating wildfire seasons that the Golden State has experienced took place in 2020. With more than four million acres consumed, at one point, firefighters were battling more than 300 active fires. The unfortunate death toll as of October stood at 31, and more than 9,000 structures, both commercial and residential, were lost to the flames.
Increasingly Extreme Weather Creates Problems for California Residents
Climate change has worsened drought conditions in California, thus making the wildfire season more dangerous and destructive. It certainly does not help that the Atlantic Hurricane Season coincides with the wildfires, and this means that remnants of tropical storms, which originate in the Caribbean, eventually cut across Central America and travel north along the Pacific shoreline; this creates the added risk of high winds that stoke the fires and stir up embers.
When you see photographs of California properties consumed by the wildfires, you may have noticed a few structures standing while adjacent ones have been reduced to smoldering heaps. This is a matter of wildfire-resistant construction, which involves utilizing certain construction materials and applying some techniques for the purpose of mitigation.
The National Fire Protection Association has made various recommendations that may soon be incorporated into the state building code when Senate Bill 190 becomes fully implemented in the near future. Some wildfire-resistant features that may become mandatory include:
- Tempered windows.
- All metal framing and roofing.
- No vents in the attic.
- Fire resistant insulation.
- Concrete slabs.
- Special stucco finish with multiple coats.
- Engineered wood flooring.
- Special landscaping.
- Composite decking.
- Smart fire sprinkler systems.
What California property owners should know is that many of the aforementioned features can be retrofitted into existing structures; in fact, some homeowners whose properties were scorched but did not burn down to the ground during the 2020 wildfire season are already doing so.