Firefighters Can't Do It Alone - Live Burn Demo Shows Effectiveness of Homeowners Taking Wildfire Mitigation Actions
News: 2023 Press Release
Irvine, Calif. – As California enters the highest-risk time of the year for wildfires, the California Department of Insurance, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), and Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), conducted a live wildfire demonstration to show the effectiveness of research-based wildfire mitigation actions, including maintaining a noncombustible five-foot buffer around a home – Zone 0 – to help reduce its risk of ignition.
Embers, not the main fire front, are the leading cause of home ignitions during a wildfire. The live fire demonstration featured a side-by-side look at fire behavior impacts on mitigated vs. unmitigated structures.
“Firefighters can’t do it alone – everyone has a part to play in making California safer from wildfires, including insurance companies,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “California is the first state in the nation to require insurance companies to incorporate our new Safer from Wildfires framework into the price of insurance – so we reduce wildfire risk and incentivize people to harden their homes. If you do the work, you should get the reward, and today’s demonstration highlights the difference these actions make in reducing fire risk.”
A noncombustible Zone 0, along with the roof and specific building features such as gutters and vents, are key areas of IBHS’s Wildfire Prepared Home program where California homeowners can earn a designation by taking a system of science-backed actions to reduce their home’s wildfire risk. The five-foot buffer around a home is also critical to California Department of Insurance’s Safer from Wildfires, a ground-up approach to wildfire resilience that qualifies California homeowners for insurance discounts.
“Where we see a beautiful bush or wood mulch, an ember sees fuel,” said IBHS CEO Roy Wright. “Homeowners spend hours selecting countertops, flooring and paint colors, yet may be unaware that the choices for groundcover and vegetation in the first five feet out from their home can be the difference in having a house to come home to after a wildfire or having to look somewhere else for shelter.”
During a wildfire, embers may collect in Zone 0, also known as the home ignition zone, and smolder, ultimately igniting and spreading to the home. Once a home ignites in a wildfire, it is almost always a total loss without firefighter intervention. September 18, 2023
Homeowners are urged to get started now to create a non-combustible five-foot buffer around the home by removing combustible items and vegetation, replacing groundcover like wood or rubber mulch with materials such as river rocks or gravel, and replacing the first five feet of combustible fencing attached to the home.
Items on top of or underneath attached porches and decks should also be non-combustible and any deck four inches or lower to the ground should be enclosed with 1/8 inch or finer metal mesh. Keeping Zone 0 free of debris build up over time is critical.
“As our Wildland Urban Interface grows in tandem with bigger, hotter, and faster-moving climate-driven wildfires, we aim to partner with stakeholders that are equally committed to innovation and prevention,” said OCFA Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. “The IBHS and CDI are such partners, and their data-driven wildfire mitigation efforts are critical to our collective mission to save lives and protect property.”
To view images and videos from the events, visit here.
About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about at ibhs.org.
About Safer from Wildfires
Every action under Safer from Wildfires qualifies consumers for an insurance discount, including installing a Class A fire-rated roof, creating a 5-foot ember-resistant zone around the structure and noncombustible 6 inches at the bottom of walls, adding ember- and fire-resistant vents, double pane windows or added shutters, and more. More information is available at insurance.ca.gov.
About the California Department of Insurance
Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry.
About Wildfire Prepared Home
Wildfire Prepared Home is the first-ever wildfire mitigation designation program. Based on the latest research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), it offers California homeowners a path to take the system of science-based actions shown to meaningfully reduce a home’s wildfire risk. Learn more at wildfireprepared.org.
Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA)
The Orange County Fire Authority serves nearly two million people with 78 fire stations strategically spread across 23 cities and all unincorporated areas of Orange County. Founded in 1995 as a Joint Powers Authority, the OCFA is a premier public safety agency that is nationally heralded for its superior fire protection and medical emergency services with an unrivaled commitment to compassion and care.
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Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at www.insurance.ca.gov via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.