Oregon government officials are hoping some home hardening measures can help to prevent houses from burning during a wildfire. Summers in the west are getting hotter and dryer and more fire-prone especially in the recent past few summers. The most controversial part of the sweeping new wildfire protection plan is facing pushback from property owners, agricultural industries, and homebuilders.

These opposing groups and Oregon leaders have come together to try and reach some sort of compromise and representatives from these opposing groups along with others will now spend the next year hoping to advise state agencies on how to map out the state’s most fire-prone areas and determine where home hardening rules should be required.

What is home hardening?Oregon's New Plans to Protect Homes from Wildfires

Home hardening is a means of preparing a home for wildfire. There are three main ways that homes can be exposed to wildfire: through direct flames from the fire or from burning neighboring homes, or radiant heat from nearby burning plants or structures and flying embers. Flying embers can destroy a home up to a mile away from a burning fire and have been found to be responsible for most home fires during wildfires.

There are several ways in which a home can be hardened, one of them includes a metal roof or clay or tile shingles instead of traditional shingle roofs. Another measure is removing any gutters where debris can accumulate with the proper alternative runoff measures. Another strategy is to use concrete siding or stucco and remove all vegetation from within a certain distance from the home. Some more home hardening techniques can be found here at this website: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/hardening-your-home/

Most states do not require fire-resistant materials for building a home

An analysis conducted last year found that most states do not require a building with fire-resistant materials and homebuilder associations have brought stiff opposition to proposals to do that. There are a few mandates for wildfire building codes in California, but only in high-risk areas.

About a decade ago Oregon officials first push for wildfire building codes but the Oregon homebuilders association testify are the measures would add substantial cost to the price of a home. Oregon approved fireman Acacian codes in 2019 but left them optional.

Several raging wildfires of Oregon last year destroyed thousands of homes and resulted in nine deaths; this has caused Oregon lawmakers to pass a $200 million wildfire bill. The bill includes more firefighting capacity an expanded force management plan and some clean air shelters to protect the most vulnerable from smoke.

How Oregon will attempt to map out places that face the highest fire risks

It is believed that fire risk maps will have the biggest influence over which areas will see the strictest fire safe building codes for new construction in the state of Oregon. Along with this will be requirements for clearing out flammable material around homes. Leaders are looking for a balance between allowing people to do exactly what they want on private property while responding to the future threats of wildfire.

Opponents of the new proposed rules are on the advisory committee that will help figure out where these rules should be required. Some of these members include Mark Long, the CEO of the Oregon Homebuilders Association, and Dave Honeycutt, president of the Oregon Property Owners Association.

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