Creating Fire-Resistant Buildings For Our Future

The recent string of wildfires — from Australia to the California coastline — has our lawmakers scratching their heads about what to do. The solutions range in potential impact, but some take us a step in the right direction. For example, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners recently voted to ban certain types of very flammable roofing. 

Fire Marshal Kathy Clay said, “We are stressed here with lots of UV light and very dry conditions. We have rain with snow. We have hail. And all of those make a detrimental impact on the fire resistance of a wood shake shingle over time.”

Not everyone agrees with the outcome of the vote. Per usual, some are calling for more research instead.

Senior Project Manager at Pie Consulting and Engineering Jordan Craig said, “Instead of just flat-out banning this material, get engineers and architects involved. Get the proper roof systems designed so that way you have a roof system that will perform just as well as any other roofing material out there.”

You might not care when you read about a random Long Island Spine Specialist whose business was lost due to arson, but this is the type of news that gets us through the day — we think about what we would have done, how we could have helped, and what we can do next time to ensure a building is constructed to be more fire resistant. The modern age is full of wonders, and we expect the danger of fire to decline in the coming decades!

One industry that shows signs of a future turn in the upward direction is glass making. Believe it or not, there is already a large market for fire-resistant glass around the world. This is only in part due to an increase in wildfires. The bigger reason why fire-resistant glass is such a “hot” commodity is because of the increase in high rise buildings, especially in developing countries. 

Other legislators believe that updated coding practices could reduce the impact on homeowners. Colorado is one state where these codes should probably be implemented, but none are on the books — and there are wildfires in the Colorado mountains every single year.

Matthew Reed-Tolonen put all his valuables in a fire-proof safe before he and his family evacuated from the East Troublesome fire in October of 2020. But it didn’t make a difference.

Reed-Tolonen said, “That was like the marriage license, birth certificates, all that kind of stuff. I thought I was good. I was like, ‘All right, it’s closed.’ And this is an expensive safe, we’re good. It didn’t do anything, just ash.”

After losing his new dream home to the fire, he plans to rebuild — but smarter and stronger. He wants to build farther away from trees and use a metal wainscoting on the exterior of the new home to help resist wildfires in the area. He could use brick or cement-fiber to make the house even more resistant to the harsh flames — but it doesn’t fit his vision.