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Fire-resistant houses are essential for protecting homes and families against increasing wildfires in the United States. Vital elements of a fire-resistant home design include passive fire protection with fireproof roofs, window, door, vents, and exterior walls, like ones built with Fox Blocks insulated concrete form (ICF) wall systems.
Why Design a Fire-Resistant Home?
Building a fire-resistant house is vital for today’s homeowners that want to protect both their homes, valued contents and families. The increasing focus in fire-resistant home design is highly due to a rise in wildfires and longer wildfire seasons. In 2017, there were 31,017 wildfires in the United States (U.S.). An 8 percent increase over 2016. Many scientists blame the rise in wildfires on climate change, which is causing an increase in global temperatures, drier forests, and earlier snow melts.
Regrettably, according to Verisk’s 2017 Wildfire Risk Analysis, 4.5 million homes in the U.S. are at high or extreme danger of wildfire, a fact that supports the need for fire-resistant components in new homes. An essential element of fire-resistant home construction is passive fire protection. Passive fire protection provides for fire-resistant exterior walls, doors, windows, roofs, and vents.
Passive Fire Protection in Safe Home Design
Passive fire protection guards a family and protects the house by controlling the spread of fire and smoke. Passive fire protection includes firewalls, smoke barriers, horizontal assemblies, and fire partitions. Passive fire protection is often not visible to the residents; however, it’s vital in saving lives and protecting property when a fire happens. Passive fire protection reduces the spread of fire and smoke through vertical openings and stops the collapse of a house. Passive fire protection can save the family and home in the event of a fire.
Fox Block Wall Systems for a Fire-Resistant Home
A crucial component of passive fire protection of a fire-resistant home is the wall system. A superb choice for passive firewall protection is Fox Blocks ICFs. The 6-inch Fox Blocks have an ASTM E119 fire rating of four hours (twice the two-hour requirement), an ASTM E84 reported values for flame speed of less than 25 and smoke development of less than 450.
Along with excellent fire-resistance, Fox Blocks are disaster-resistant, noise reducing, and energy-efficient with an R-value of 23+. Additionally, because Fox Blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of less than 1.0, Fox Blocks control moisture accumulation, which prohibits the growth of mold and mildew.
A best practice for a fire-resistant home includes a fire-resistant wall system, like one built with Fox Blocks ICFs.
The Roof for a Fire-Resistant Home
The roof of a fire-resistant home must resist catching fire. Roofs are susceptible to fire from burning debris, fireworks, lightning, wildfires, chimney fires, and sparks. Constructing a roof with fire-resistant products is a home’s best defense against a roof fire.
Fire-testing exposure of roof assemblies is in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. The treating of fire-retardant-treated wood roof coverings should also be in accordance with ASTM D2898. The UL 790 has three classes of fire-resistant roofing. A best practice for constructing a fire-resistant home uses Class A roofing.
- Class A roof coverings protect against severe fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class A roof materials are slate, asphalt glass, concrete tiles, clay tiles, and fiber composition shingles.
- Class B roof coverings protect against moderate fire test exposures to the roof deck, will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class B roof materials are shingles and pressure-treated shakes.
- Class C roof coverings protect against light fire test exposures and will not slip from a position or produce flying brands. Examples of Class C roofing products are particle board, plywood, and untreated wood shakes and shingles.
Windows and Doors for a Fire-Resistant Home
Fire-resistant glass in the windows and doors is a critical component for a fire-resistant home. Classification of fire-resistant glass in doors and windows is by their integrity and insulation. Integrity is the measure of time the glazing holds the smoke and fire in an area and reduce the spread of the fire. Insulation is how long the glazing material shields the home’s residents from the heat radiating from a fire. Fire-resistant design of a home must consider the windows and doors.
Vents for a Fire-Resistant Home
Because flames and ashes can enter a home through vents, the design of the vents must resist these intrusions. There are a few methods for protecting vents from flying embers.
- Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to make a barrier between the vents and the embers.
- Cover the vent openings with 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh.
Fire-resistant homes are essential for the integrity of the house and the safety of the homeowners. Critical components of a fire-resistant home include passive fire protection shields and fireproof exterior walls, roofs, window, door, and vents.