We often encounter an unspoken expectation from residents that folks in the wildfire resilience field have attained an all-encompassing level of expertise regarding “all things wildfire.” Public inquiries run the gamut from the easy and routine to answer, to those that require a cursory internet search, to questions that are completely outside most everyone’s knowledge base, even wildfire practitioners.
To assist in responding to the wide range of residents’ informational needs, you probably have a virtual or physical toolbox that you’ve created over the years — the one chock-full of the latest and greatest resources. The one that prepares you for every possible encounter and ensures you are well equipped for even the most challenging of questions. Then one day it happens; you are blindsided by an obscure inquiry that leaves you empty-handed, with nothing to give that individual who assumed that you knew everything there was to know about wildfire. You silently ask yourself how you could have possibly known the answer to “that” question.
Like a knight in shining armor, the nine-part Wildfire Research Fact Sheet Series is available for use in those types of situations. The series was produced by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)’s Firewise USA® program, as part of the NFPA/USDA Forest Service cooperative agreement and with research provided by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety — IBHS.
Developed for practitioners, the printer-ready resources are a product of the research done by the IBHS lab in South Carolina. They cover a wide range of issues that the majority of us often struggle to provide adequate information on. Each fact sheet has been designed in a format that can be easily customized with the addition of your organization’s logo.
The series began in 2017 with these five topics:
1. Attic and Crawl Space Vents: Windblown embers can enter attics and crawl spaces through vents; this fact sheet outlines the best choices for ember-resistant vents (PDF; 1,048KB).
2. Coatings: This issue looks at gels and paints used for water resistance and other purposes from a fire-resistance standpoint. It dives into application requirements and performance limitations of various coatings (PDF; 737KB).
3. Decks: Many homes in wildfire-prone areas have attached decks, which can potentially carry wildfire to the house when ignited. This resource provides recommendations for deck maintenance and construction (PDF; 1,013KB).
4. Fencing: Our fencing issue provides an overview of the latest research on the materials, installation and maintenance choices that should be implemented when fencing is adjacent to (or near) a home (PDF; 1,081KB).
5. Roofing Materials: This fact sheet outlines ways to reduce a roof’s vulnerability to wildfire (PDF; 1,549KB).
The positive feedback that we received on the series’ initial issues exceeded our expectations, so we produced additional fact sheets in 2018, which included:
6. Exterior Sprinkler Systems: This issue outlines the functionality of exterior sprinkler systems, along with discussing their installation, potential issues and recommendations. (PDF; 612KB).
7. Fire Spread on Ember-Ignited Decks: Wind-blown embers are arguably the single greatest threat to homes and their decks during a wildfire. This fact sheet builds off the 2017 Decks resource and highlights deck construction and re-enforcement tips, with an ember focus (PDF; 439KB).
8. Skylights: Without taking precautions, skylights can be an entry point for embers and/or flames to burn a home. This fact sheet discusses what homeowners who have skylights need to know and do regarding their maintenance (PDF; 1,386KB).
9. Under-Eave Construction: This issue covers the under-eave area of a house and its role in a home’s fire resistance (PDF; 477KB).
Add each topic to your toolkit and deepen the level of knowledge you can provide to your community. To download the original or customizable series in entirety, visit our Wildfire Research Fact Sheet series webpage.
This post was written by Cathy Prudhomme, who has since left NFPA for another opportunity. Questions about NFPA and/or these fact sheets should be emailed to Marie Snow (msnow[at]nfpa[dot]org).
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