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.