National Building Safety Month: Reduce Risk of Wildfire Damage During Backyard Safety Week Using IBHS Resources

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A critical way to reduce wildfire risk to a home or business is by creating defensible space around your property.

Effective defensible space is essential for a building’s survivability during a wildfire.

During Backyard Safety Week (May 28-31), which is part of National Building Safety Month, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is providing resources to help homeowners and business owners in wildfire-prone areas reduce their risk to this potentially devastating natural hazard.

An abundance of dry vegetation, the byproduct of extreme drought conditions in many areas around the country, has lead forecasters to predict a highly active 2012 wildfire season this summer, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

Dr. Steve Quarles, IBHS senior research scientist, says a critical way to reduce wildfire risk to a home or business is by creating defensible space around a property that consists of three zones. “Effective defensible space is essential for a building’s survivability during a wildfire. It creates a sufficient buffer to slow or stop the spread of a wildfire to a building, and can protect the building from igniting,” Quarles explained.

Zone 1: The area within five feet around your home or business
Zone 2: The area between five and 30 feet around your home or business, or to the property line
Zone 3: The area between 30 feet and 100 feet around your home or business, or to the property line

IBHS offers geographically-specific regional wildfire retrofit guides at http://www.disastersafety.org/wildfire. Each guide includes information about how to create a wildfire-resistant landscape and a Wildfire Risk Assessment Checklist that consumers can use to determine the retrofit projects they want to undertake. There is a cost estimator in the checklist to help prioritize the tasks consumers can do now and those they can make part of future maintenance and renovation projects.

IBHS also offers wildfire preparedness brochures focusing on commercial, residential, and farm and ranch properties.

In addition, IBHS conducts original scientific wildfire research. In March 2010, IBHS conducted the first-ever full-scale wildfire ember storm demonstration at the IBHS Research Center. This research test was part of a building science study to illustrate how easily wind-blown embers can ignite combustible materials and items near or on a house, and to provide homeowners with specific recommendations about what they can do to better protect their homes from wildfire. Read a summary of this study at the eXtension Wildfire Information Network (eWIN).

IBHS is a leading national expert on preparing for, and repairing and rebuilding structures after, a catastrophe to make them more disaster-resistant. To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, jking(at)ibhs(dot)org or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

Visit http://www.DisasterSafety.org for more information about how to make your buildings more resistant to a variety of disasters, large and small. Follow IBHS on Twitter at @DisasterSafety and on Facebook.

About the IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific research and communications organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks on residential and commercial property by conducting building science research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparedness practices.

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