Before floor plan design comes into play, the initial strategy is to design a buffer or defensible space of incombustible material around the home location. This buffer zone can be comprised of patios, driveways or low-growing fire-retardant plants. Special attention is paid to the potential for extremely dangerous up-slope running fire areas. Site layout includes the planning of driveways and turnarounds that are wide enough to make it easy for firefighters.
Stillwater's standing seam metal roofing can be one of the front lines of prevention when it comes to wildfire defense. Our metal, flat roofing provides a “Class A” fire rating offering the highest resistance to fire. Special attention is also paid to the substrate (the material on which the roof sits).
Ember resistant exterior siding materials like cement board and stucco can be both preventative and be incorporated into various Stillwater styles.
Special attention is devoted to the design and materials on the underside of overhangs - also referred to as soffits. This applies to the under side of cantilevers, balconies, decks, and underfloor areas as well. These areas are where the flames will be trapped and temperatures will be the highest. It is necessary to provide fire resistant materials, protection enclosures and structural integrity to these locations.
Windows & Doors
Windows are the weakest link in defending your building envelope, but there are several methods to strengthen these areas. Double glazed, insulated and tempered glass each add extra layers of defense. The mot secure options are concealed roll-down or side recessed metal fire doors with automatically fusible link closure. Glass panels can also be wire glass or fire safety glass that can stay intact even though cracked by the heat.
Concrete and paving stone patios not only add an element of modern beauty, they are also helpful in fire defense. Another material to consider is Ipe wood (also called Brazilian walnut) which is a very dense wood and is naturally resistant to fire. Railings, patios covers and pergolas can also be made Ipe wood or metal. Detailed construction ensuring a tight fit to block the wildfire accompanying strong winds from blowing embers is critical.
Electrical power can be out for weeks or months during a fire. California power companies are now proactively turning off parts of the grid during high fire alert days to or during strong winds to prevent knocked down power lines from causing a fire. Considering both solar and emergency generator solutions can help keep you up and running when power lines are down or after your has home weathered the fires.
Fire Suppression Systems
Many jurisdictions now require fire suppression systems such as sprinklers. These can tend to be unsightly, but with careful planning and innovations we help to minimize their visibility creating a safe space that is aesthetically pleasing. In some cases water tanks or fire hydrants may also be necessary.