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How Homeowners and Communities Can Protect Themselves from Wildfires

Posted: April 21, 2022

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) releases first-of-its-kind holistic home and community wildfire protection methodology

NIST released the WUI Structure/Parcel/Community Fire Hazard Mitigation Methodology (HMM) PDF to provide guidance for homeowners and communities to protect themselves from wildfires. Integrating the latest post-fire field observations and fire science research, this report defines dozens of clear, measurable and cost-effective protective actions homeowners can take to defend their homes.

Wildfires can spread through a community very quickly, especially one with dense housing. Often, the progression of wildfire is too fast for firefighters to feasibly defend every structure. Millions of properties in the wildland urban interface (WUI) must be hardened so that these structures can stand alone during a wildfire — without intervention from firefighters — and still survive.

Not to be confused with fireproofing, “hardening” is focused on the most vulnerable components of a structure to increase resistance the heat, flames and embers that accompany most wildfires.

Using a holistic approach to mitigation, the HMM suggests every structure in a community be hardened to address fire spread between properties. Recommendations include creating a defensible space around every structure, taking into consideration fuel sources such as woodpiles, sheds, fences, landscaping and vegetation.

Although the methodology was designed for retrofitting existing WUI communities, the HMM can also be applied to new construction.

For help communicating protective actions

Review wildfire outreach materials from the U.S. Fire Administration. USFA collaborates with NIST to translate fire-science-driven guidance into communications products for fire service practitioners and the public.

This article is based on content in the
April 21, 2022 InfoGram.

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