Noted technology forecaster Paul Saffo lives in a Bay Area neighborhood designated as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone—fire-resistant construction is mandated for all new houses, but existing ones are grandfathered in.
When his generations-old Craftsman needed a new roof anyway, Saffo decided to try to make his home as safe as he could.
Saffo replaced his shake roof with Class A fireproof composition shake. On the walls, he opted for fire-resistant treated shingles. Class A cap sheet underlayment helps protect the framing from flying sparks.
Click ahead for more of his fire-safe home ideas.
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Clearly mark the house number
You need simple digits that are easily visible from the street. This way, whether you’ve called 911 or a firefighter is radioing for backup, anyone looking for your house can find it.
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Upgrade roof vents
Instead of enclosing (“boxing”) the eaves with noncombustible material, Saffo removed eave vents in favor of two in-roof options: wildfire-rated vents to help repel embers and screened “mushroom” vent fans to cool the house.
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Wildfire can crack glass, letting flames invade the house. Saffo replaced his windows and skylights with double-paned, tempered glass with low-e glazing, which reduces heat transfer through windows.
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Reinforce foundation vents
These near-the-ground vents are another place embers can get in. There are no fire-rated foundation vents on the market yet, so Saffo had some made—basically, by stapling metal screening on the existing vent from behind.
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Install interior sprinklers
Building codes in this San Francisco Peninsula town require whole-house sprinklers for new construction. Since his roof was already off, Saffo took the opportunity to add sprinklers as well.