After How to Protect Your Home Against a Wildfire
Wildfires are becoming all too common. From the Woodbury Fire in Arizona to some of the most damaging wildfires in California State history, we’ve seen how quick and destructive fires can be. You might think there’s nothing you can do to protect your family home or vacation home, but you’d be wrong! With the right preparation, you can reduce the amount of damage caused by wildfire and possibly keep the fire from reaching your residence.
Discover what causes homes to burn and what you can do to make yours as flame-resistant as possible to reduce the threat of fire destroying your home sweet home.
Ninety percent of homes in a wildfire don’t catch because of flames, it’s the embers. Embers drift through the wind and land in the nooks and crannies of your home. As the embers build-up, the wind blows igniting the embers and setting your home on fire. You can prevent this event when you prepare and complete these tasks.
- Block embers from entering your home through attic vents by installing a fine mesh screen.
PRO TIP: Apply flame retardant like Flamecheck M-111 to the wood inside your attic. Treat any unsealed wood or anything absorbent near these vents, if a tiny ember finds its way into your attic make sure your attic is unable to support combustion.
- Close any openings to your home such as windows, doors and dog doors.
- Remove all dead leaves and dry vegetation from your gutters and around your house.
PRO TIP: In the event you don’t have time to remove vegetation before evacuating, you can spray with Flamecheck M-111 so that this dry vegetation will not support combustion from embers or flames. You can also use Flamecheck M-111 to create a barrier around your house. Flamecheck M-111 Fire Retardant Spray is 100% non-toxic and will turn into fertilizer when washed out by rain. Flamecheck M-111 is water-soluble should be reapplied after rain or being washed with water.
- Remove flammable materials from exterior walls, including mulch and firewood.
- Treat any cedar shake roofing tiles, siding or other non-treated wood (decks, fences, etc.) with a fire retardant spray.
PRO TIP: Using Flamecheck All Weather on cedar shake tiles or siding can provide a longer-lasting fire retardant because Flamecheck All Weather has a waterproof barrier. In some states, insurance companies won’t insure houses with cedar shake roofing tiles and/or siding in wooded areas or if trees are close to the home unless treated with Flamecheck All Weather. Flamecheck All Weather can be used on any unsealed wood such as; decking, fences, storage units, etc. Test annually.
Your home can catch fire without coming into contact with a flame. It can be ignited and burn from the inside out due to radiant heat. If there’s a raging fire near your home, radiant heat coming through your windows can ignite the curtains or furniture inside your house by the radiant heat coming through your windows. There’s an easy way to help prevent this phenomenon–use whitewash on your glass windows. Click here for a PDF on how to make whitewash.
By applying a whitewash to your glass windows, you can block a lot of the radiant heat from coming through the panes and thus stop your curtains and furnishings from catching on fire. As soon as you’re told fire is near your neighborhood, brush on some whitewash to cover those windows. After the emergency just use a garden hose to remove the whitewash.
PRO TIP: Apply Flamecheck M-111 to the curtains and furnishings inside your home. This application adds an extra layer of fire protection and will keep your soft furnishings from igniting from radiant heat. Since 2012 furniture manufacturers are no longer required to treat soft furnishings with flame retardants.
Debris and Combustible Belongings
Once you’ve treated the interior and exterior of the structure of your home, you need to turn to the outside. For the best success, clear a 30’ zone around your residence. Start with a 5′ zone directly next to your home, this area should be thoroughly cleaned, keeping in mind that the roof or under your porch may have areas where debris has built up.
- Remove any dry and overgrown vegetation.
- Remove combustible materials, including propane tanks, gasoline cans, and paint cans from garages, under decks, and porches.
- Trim low-hanging tree branches to at least 4’ off the ground. Fire crawls along the ground, when you remove branches you reduce the chance of the tree bursting into flames.
- Water your trees well. A well-watered tree is less likely to combust.
- Cut the grass to no more than 4”.
PRO TIP: You can apply a flame retardant like Flamecheck M-111 to the ground and brush outside of your home. Flamecheck M-111 works on virtually anything that’s absorbent: foam, wood, cotton, polyester, and even grass and leaves. What’s more, there’s no need to douse your belongings, simply spritz and cover them entirely. Flamecheck M-111 is designed with special surfactants to make it sink into absorbent materials. Other more old-fashioned flame-retardants slow ignition, whereas, Flamecheck M-111 forms a melamine carbon shield that reflects the fire away and stops ignition.
Finally, listen to your local fire professionals. When they tell you to evacuate, grab what you can and leave the residence. Preparation is key to combating the stress of this event and reducing panic. Discuss your household emergency plan now and make sure everyone knows their role. Don’t leave your animals behind and check on your elderly neighbors to make sure they have a way out. It’s the right thing to do.
Kill Fire Dead in Its Tracks
Take the time to treat your home and store some Flamecheck M-111 flame retardant in your garage so you are prepared if asked to get ready to evacuate. This non-toxic, non-allergenic, and odorless flame retardant goes on clear and creates a barrier to stop fire dead in its tracks. When materials treated with Flamecheck M-111 are hit by fire, the ingredients in the flame retardant create a Melamine carbon shield. The resulting molecules pull together to reflect the heat away and keep the material treated from catching fire and disintegrating. This is the quickest way to secure the area surrounding your home in the event that you don’t have time to prepare before a wildfire nears your neighborhood.
Will Flamecheck M-111 work on areas that are painted or sealed? No, Flamecheck M-111 must be absorbed into the substrate in order for it to work. So, sealed items need to be painted with Flamecheck Paint-IN, Paint-X, Firewall-X, Firewall-IN, FIF Clear Coat-In, and FIF Clear Coat-X. Can I apply Flamecheck M-111 months or years before the fire comes through? No, depending on what you are treating and where it’s located. On interior applications, it will last the life of the treated item, unless washed out. If exposed to rain or water, depending upon what the substrate is made of it might get wash it off more quickly. However, if you have treated your garden plants and it rains, Flamecheck M-111 turns into a natural fertilizer. It’s best to keep a few 5-gallon buckets in the garage just in case you want to spray the grass and make a 5-foot barrier around your house before evacuating. It will give you that extra barrier that you may need. Flamecheck M-111 has an unlimited shelf life in a sealed container, do not allow Flamecheck M-111 to freeze.
What should I do if I want to prepare months or years before a wildfire is near my home?
The best protection is planning in advance. When building or remodeling, always use “Class A” fire-rated materials, such as siding, or metal and clay roofing tiles.
PRO TIP: Treat any wood with Flamecheck M-111 before you paint or cover it with drywall. This will give you an added layer of protection for the structure of your home. Electrical fires often start inside your walls.
Flamecheck offers 3 types of fire retardant paint products. How do I know what product I should use?
Although some protection is always better than no protection, it’s a good idea to consider what your specific situation is to determine what level of protection is going to be best for you.
Let’s start with a quick lesson on some fire code tests and what they mean. NFPA 701 is a test mostly used for fabrics or wall hangings. ASTM E-84 and ASTM E-119 are for building materials, these are rated Class A, B or C.
What does a “Class A” ASTM E-84 fire rating mean? Often called the Steiner Tunnel test or spread of flame test, the testing lab will take the treated material and place it in a sealed tunnel that has a fire source at one end. Once the fire has been removed, they measure how much smoke is being produced and how far the flame travels before it extinguishes itself. In order to receive a “Class A”, it must stop burning within 25 inches of the original fire source and the smoke index must be less than 450.
Flamecheck Paint-IN (interior) and Paint-X (exterior) both meet or exceed ASTM E-84 with a “Class A” finish over a wooden substrate. Flamecheck Paint-IN is perfect for any interior surface you want to paint and Flamecheck Paint-X gives you a fire retardant finish for your exterior painted surfaces.
Standard water-based paint is flammable, even after it has dried. That’s where Flamecheck M-111PA can be handy. Are you looking to repaint your stucco, drywall or brick walls? Flamecheck M-111PA meets or exceeds ASTM E-84 testing standards with “Class A” rating, with ZERO flame spread and ZERO smoke over a non-flammable substrate, (mostly used when building stage sets for the movie industry). This is perfect if you paint over stucco or bricks, next time you paint just mix 1 8-oz bottle per gallon of latex paint, mix well do not dilute. Flamecheck M-111PA doesn’t change the color or sheen of the paint.
Trees can be a huge fire hazard. If you have trees near your property you will want to have more protection. Imagine if a tree near your house fell over, landed on your patio, and continued to burn for an hour maybe two. This is where you want to consider using Flamecheck Firewall-X meets or exceeds ASTM E-119 testing standards with a “Class A” rating and provides a 1-2 hour barrier against fire. Flamecheck Firewall-X is often referred to as a coating instead of a paint because it has a bumpy finish similar to textured paints. It’s a great product to use on the outside of your home as well as inside your garage or near any fire source like a fireplace or furnace.
Wooden surfaces should be protected too! Using Flamecheck Clear Coat-X which meets or exceeds ASTM E-84 testing standards with a “Class A” finish, will give you a beautiful clear finish so that you can appreciate the natural beautiful wood decking, furniture or other exposed wood outside your home.
Fire takes the route of least resistance, make sure your home is not an easy target. The house shown on this page was protected about 6 months prior to this wildfire coming through. Along with other fire rated building materials , they used Flamecheck Firewall-X on their exterior painted surfaces, and Flamecheck Clear Coat-X for the exposed wood. They also used Flamecheck M-111 on the soft furnishings inside the house (curtains and furniture near windows) and stored extra in the garage. When they were told to prepare to evacuate they used the stored Flamecheck M-111 a to create a barrier around the house, as you can see the fire simply went around this house, luckily that large tree fell away from the house when it burned. Although, nothing can give you a 100% guarantee against fire, with the right preparation it is possible to be passed over by the fire.
DISCLAIMER: For professional use only. Use only as directed in accordance with product instructions, safety data sheet, and any governing laws or regulations. Flamecheck does not warrant or guarantee the fitness or suitability of its products for any particular purpose or use, nor does it assume liability arising out of the application or use of its products. It is the end user’s responsibility to test and verify application techniques and suitability of products for any intended use. Flamecheck only warrants the quality control of its products. All products are supplied in sealed containers. Do not use if the seal is missing or broken.
Flamecheck does not guarantee or test against wildfires. While fire retardants slow the burning process and may reduce the amount of damage when applied properly, Flamecheck does not warrant or guarantee that its products can or will save a building from a wildfire. Flamecheck products do not protect against injury or death from smoke inhalation, embers, fire, or related dangers. As wildfires can spread quickly, devastate communities, and result in injury or death, all persons should make an evacuation plan, monitor emergency alert systems, and immediately evacuate when instructed to do so by public authorities.