Hardening a home describes the process of reducing a home's risk to wildfire by using non-combustible building materials, keeping the area around your home free of debris and taking steps to prevent embers from entering the home.
The materials you use to construct your home can determine whether your home will survive a wildfire. While you may not be able to accomplish all the measures listed below, each will increase your home's chance of survival. Here are a few tips for fire resistant home construction (PDF) (PDF, 2MB).
A quick response to a wildfire is critical for saving your home. Firefighting personnel must be able to quickly locate and safely travel to your home. Emergency responders may not be familiar with your community, so highly visible signs are important to help them find their way.
You must also remember that fire trucks are larger and heavier than normal vehicles, it is essential that all access lanes are wide enough, have proper clearance and can support the weight of fire vehicles. Here are a few tips to help improve access to your property:
At least 3-inches tall
Words on a contrasting color background
Made of reflective material
Made of fire resistant material
Visible from both directions
Streets should be labeled, having different names and numbers.
Your home should have its own house number and be in numerical order along your street.
If your home is set back from the street, post your address at the end of your driveway where it is visible from the street.
If multiple homes share a single driveway, post all addresses at the entrance from the street and at each appropriate intersection along the driveway.
Single lane one-way roads should have turnout spaces at regular intervals to allow emergency vehicles access and cars to pass.
Plan roads to allow for safe evacuation and firefighter access.
Design a minimum of two primary roads in every development.
Public and private streets should be a minimum of 10 feet wide, in order to allow two traffic lanes.
Curves and intersections should be wide enough for large fire equipment to easily pass and turn.
Streets and bridges should be built to withstand at least 40,000 pounds
Roads and driveways must not be too steep or have sharp curves.
Dead end streets and long driveways should have a turnaround area designed as a T or circle large enough to allow emergency equipment to turn around.
Whether you live in a community with poorly labeled streets or at the end of a long dead end road, making sure emergency personnel can quickly locate and get to your home can increase your home's chance of survival during a wildfire.