Where Wildfire Science Creates Resilience

Wildfire researchers at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) have spent years researching wildfire through both field and lab studies. Now, in collaboration with other wildfire community experts, IBHS has identified the mitigation actions critical to reducing your wildfire risk.

Studying the Effects of Wildfire and Weather on the Built Environment

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research organization. Our mission is to deliver top-tier science and translate it into actionable guidance that can be used to prevent avoidable suffering and property damage caused by severe weather and wildfire, breaking the cycle of repeated loss.

IBHS researchers test different methods for reducing damage to buildings at a one-of-a-kind Research Center capable of recreating severe weather and wildfire conditions. We subject full-size homes and their construction features to realistic ember storms, hail, rain, and up to 130 mph wind, which allows us to better understand a home’s vulnerabilities and test the effectiveness of different mitigation techniques against these natural perils.

 

 

 

Vulnerabilities

After a wildfire, IBHS conducts field studies to examine vulnerabilities that contributed to the destruction of buildings and reviews mitigation actions that could minimize this type of loss in the future.

Combustible Fencing Touching Home

A combustible section of fence attached to the home was exposed to flame and could have spread fire directly to the home. This is why fencing within 5 feet of the home must be constructed of a noncombustible material including where fences attach to the home.

Combustible Mulch

Fire spread through combustible (wood) mulch and stopped when it reached noncombustible (rock) landscaping, preventing flames from spreading to the home. This is why the 5-foot area immediately surrounding the home (the home ignition zone) must be kept clear of combustible materials.

Pergola Within 30 Feet of Home

Embers ignited a wood pergola near a home. Without defensive actions (firefighters were at this home during the fire), this could have caused flames to contact and potentially ignite the home. This is why there are strict requirements for accessory structures.

Hot Tub Within 5 Feet of Home

A combustible item (hot tub) near the building ignited and burned, creating a pathway for flames to spread to the building. This is why combustible items are not allowed to be placed in the 5-foot area immediately surrounding the home (the home ignition zone).

Wood Shingle Roof on Outbuilding

An outbuilding (shed) near the home is a large fuel source that can potentially ignite and spread fire to the home. Additionally, the wood shingle roof makes the shed particularly vulnerable to ignition. This is why outbuildings within 30 feet of the home must meet strict requirements.

Under Deck

Embers ignited wood mulch, which melted the vinyl lattice, but did not spread under the deck because that area was kept clear of combustibles. This is why the area under decks and covered porches must be kept clear of all vegetation, combustible ground cover, and storage items.

Debris in Gutters

Debris accumulated in the gutter could be ignited by embers, which could cause flames to get under the metal roof covering and ignite the roof underlayment. This is why gutters and downspouts must be kept clear of debris such as leaves and pine needles. 

Wooden Exterior Door

Wood door ignited by accumulated embers. This is why the Plus level designation requires exterior doors to be made of noncombustible materials or to have a noncombustible exterior storm door installed as the outermost door.

Vegetation Within 5-Foot Zone

Vegetation near the home ignited, likely from embers, which could then ignite the home. This is why no vegetation is allowed in the 5-foot area immediately surrounding the home (the home ignition zone).

Combustible Objects on Deck

An ember likely traveled through the air and landed on a combustible front door mat. This serves as an important reminder to move combustible items indoors from decks and porches if you are evacuated due to an approaching wildfire. 

Debris in Gutters

Debris accumulated in the gutter could be ignited by embers, which could cause flames to get under the metal roof covering and ignite the roof underlayment. This is why gutters and downspouts must be kept clear of debris such as leaves and pine needles. 

Experts

Wildfire Prepared Home experts offer useful tips and research-backed insights to help you protect your home and property. Prepare your home and learn about the impacts of wildfire.

DANIEL GORHAM, P.E.

Research Engineer

FARAZ HEDAYATI, PHD

Research Engineer

XARENI SANCHEZ MONROY

Research Scientist

MURRAY MORRISON, PHD

Managing Director of Research

IAN GIAMMANCO, PHD

Senior Director for Standards and Analytics

ANNE D. COPE, PHD, P.E.

Chief Engineer

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