Devastating wildfires over the past five years have changed the way we live in Northern California. Towns are becoming increasingly aware of wildfire prevention and homeowners are taking extra steps to keep their lives and property safe in case of fire. One homeowner in NorCal has taken these precautions to the next level by creating the first “wildfire-prepared home” in the United States.
Paradise was completely devastated by the Camp Fire in 2018 and now the town is looking to become the standard for wildfire preparedness as it rebuilds. Homeowner Casey Taylor took the extra effort to designate his home as the first “wildfire-prepared home” in America, citing his family’s loss during the Camp Fire as his motivation.
“My parents and my brother live in Paradise and lost their homes on this ridge,” Taylor said to KCRA. “It is really satisfying to come back into the town knowing that the town leaders here are saying ‘we understand what climate change has done,’ ‘we understand that the severity of these wildfires is not something we can ignore.'”
The designation was created by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety for a homeowner to prove they’ve taken the proper steps to protect their home from the dangers of wildfire. The home must have a Class A roof (resistant to embers), standards for a clear attic and gutters, and at least five feet of space between the home and combustible materials.
The town of Paradise was so impressed with the brand-new designation, council members are working to make it mandatory for future construction.
“Our community knows all too well that hardening your home can help save it in the event of a wildfire, and we are happy to see IBHS rollout this designation program to support our homeowners in making their homes safer,” said Paradise Town Manager Kevin Phillips. “We have a unique opportunity as we continue to rebuild to do so in a way that ensures greater resilience for generations to come.”
Throughout development of Wildfire Prepared Home, IBHS has engaged a broad set of stakeholders, including representatives of CAL FIRE and the California Department of Insurance, to ensure the program creates both a meaningful reduction in risk and is achievable for homeowners
“This program brings together more than a decade of IBHS wildfire research with learnings from the broader fire protection community,” adds Dr. Anne Cope, chief engineer at IBHS. “As our research continues, we will immediately incorporate findings into the program’s standard. Yet the wildfire crisis in California is happening right now, and we cannot let more communities suffer damage, disruption and displacement while we wait for perfect answers. We must apply what we know now to reduce the catastrophic reach of wildfire into suburban communities.”
For anyone interested in designating their home as a “wildfire-prepared home,” go to wildfireprepared.org.