News Article

Strategies for Building a Fire Resistant Home

Strate­gies for build­ing a fire-resis­tant home are a pri­or­i­ty for today’s home­own­ers and builders. After all, for most peo­ple, their home is their biggest invest­ment. The increas­ing inter­est is fire-resis­tant home design is large­ly due to a rise in wild­fires and longer wild­fire sea­sons, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the West­ern Unit­ed States. Many sci­en­tists blame the increase in wild­fires on cli­mate change which is caus­ing ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, ear­ly snow melts, and dri­er forests. Impor­tant­ly, accord­ing to Verisk’s 2017 Wild­fire Risk Analy­sis4.5 mil­lion U.S. homes are at high or extreme risk of wild­fire with loss­es; 715,300 of these homes are in Texas. The increas­ing threat of wild­fires is fuel­ing the need for fire-resis­tant design in today’s high-per­for­mance hous­es. Sev­er­al cru­cial strate­gies for build­ing a fire­proof home include pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion shields, and fire­proof exte­ri­or walls, roofs, win­dow, door, and vents.

Passive Fire Protection Shields for a Fire-Resistant Home

When a fire occurs in a home, pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion shields the occu­pants and defends the house by lim­it­ing the spread of fire and smoke. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion includes smoke bar­ri­ers, fire bar­ri­ers, fire­walls, fire par­ti­tions, and hor­i­zon­tal assem­blies. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion is usu­al­ly not vis­i­ble to the occu­pants; how­ev­er, its impor­tance in sav­ing lives and pro­tect­ing prop­er­ty is clear when a fire occurs. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion lim­its the spread of smoke and fire through ver­ti­cal open­ings, like shafts. Addi­tion­al­ly, it pre­vents the col­lapse of a house. Pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion can save the home and the fam­i­ly liv­ing inside in the event of a fire.

Wall Assemblies for a Fire-Resistant Home

An essen­tial ele­ment of pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion of a fire-resis­tant home is the wall assem­blies. A superb option for pas­sive fire­wall pro­tec­tion is the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem. The Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem is a light­weight com­pos­ite block that meets and exceed indus­try’s stan­dard for fire-resis­tance. The Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rat­ing of four hours (twice the two-hour require­ment), and an ASTM E84 report­ed val­ues for flame speed of zero and smoke devel­op­ment of twen­ty. Because the blocks meet the E84 and NFPA 286 they in effect meet the NFPA 101 code. Along with excel­lent fire-resis­tance, the Bau­tex Blocks are mois­ture-resis­tant, dis­as­ter-resis­tant, noise-reduc­ing, pest resis­tant, ener­gy effi­cient and cre­ate a home with good indoor envi­ron­men­tal qual­i­ty. A best prac­tice for build­ing a fire-resis­tant home includes a fire-resis­tant wall assem­bly like the Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem.

Fireproof Roofs for a Fire-Resistant Home

A fire-resis­tant home must include a fire­proof roof. Roofs are sus­cep­ti­ble to fire from embers from wild­fires, light­ning, chim­ney fires, sparks from burn­ing debris, fire­works, etc. A roof con­struct­ed from fire-resis­tant mate­ri­als is a home’s best defense against a roof fire. Test­ing of roof assem­blies is in accor­dance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. Fire-retar­dant-treat­ed wood roof cov­er­ings must also be treat­ed in accor­dance with ASTM D2898. Under­writ­ers Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Inc. often con­ducts the test and deter­mines the class of the fire-resis­tance of roof prod­ucts. There are three class­es of fire-resis­tant roof­ing. A best prac­tice for build­ing a fire-resis­tant home includes the use of Class A roof­ing.

  • Class A roof­ing is effec­tive against severe fire expo­sure and last two to four hours before ignit­ing. Com­mon Class A roof mate­ri­als include con­crete tiles, clay tiles, slate, asphalt glass, and fiber com­po­si­tion shin­gles.
  • Class B roof­ing is effec­tive against mod­er­ate fire expo­sures and last one hour before ignit­ing. Com­mon Class B roof mate­ri­als include shin­gles and pres­sure-treat­ed shakes.
  • Class C roof­ing pro­vides light fire pro­tec­tion and lasts 20 min­utes before ignit­ing. Com­mon Class C roof­ing prod­ucts include par­ti­cle­board, untreat­ed wood shakes and shin­gles, and ply­wood.

Fireproof Windows and Doors for a Fire-Resistant Home

A cru­cial ele­ment for a fire-resis­tant home is the use of fire-resis­tant glass in the win­dows and doors. Clas­si­fi­ca­tion of fire-resis­tant glass in doors and win­dows is accord­ing to their integri­ty and insu­la­tion. Integri­ty is the amount of time the glaz­ing con­tains the fire, smoke and hot flames in a space, so to min­i­mize the spread.

Insu­la­tion is the amount of time the glaz­ing prod­uct pro­tects the home’s occu­pants from the heat radi­at­ing from a fire. Under­writ­ers Lab­o­ra­to­ry (UL) has devel­oped a guide for under­stand­ing the basic ele­ments of fire door and win­dow assem­blies, in asso­ci­a­tion with the applic­a­ble codes and stan­dards to ensure safe, code-com­pli­ant instal­la­tions. UL List­ed win­dows and doors are cer­ti­fied to safe­ty-relat­ed stan­dards and eval­u­at­ed for poten­tial safe­ty-relat­ed haz­ards, includ­ing fire, elec­tri­cal shock, and mechan­i­cal haz­ards.

UL Clas­si­fied win­dows and doors are cer­ti­fied to a lim­it­ed range of haz­ards, or for use under spe­cif­ic con­di­tions. Both UL Lim­it­ed and Clas­si­fied can be UL Cer­ti­fied” and bear the UL Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Mark. UL cer­ti­fied win­dows and doors pro­vide fire resis­tance and pro­tect against the spread of fire and smoke with­in a home and the spread of fire to or from the home.

Fireproof Vents for a Fire-Resistant Home

Because embers and flames can enter a home through vents, vents must be designed to resist these intru­sions. There are sev­er­al meth­ods for pro­tect­ing vents from fly­ing embers and ash­es.

  • Cov­er vent open­ings with 1/​8‑inch to 1/​4‑inch met­al mesh.
  • Pro­tect vents in eaves or cor­nices with baf­fles to cre­ate a bar­ri­er between the embers and the vents.

Build­ing fire-resis­tant homes is impor­tant to today’s archi­tects, con­trac­tors, and home­own­ers. The goal of a fire-resis­tant home is to pro­tect both the house and the fam­i­ly that lives inside. Essen­tial ele­ments of a fire-resis­tant home include pas­sive fire pro­tec­tion shields and fire­proof exte­ri­or walls, roofs, win­dow, door, and vents. Vis­it Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem for more strate­gies for build­ing a fire-resis­tant home.