Using Codes and Standards to Protect Homes and Businesses from Wildfire
Solving the problem of wildfire disasters—events where whole communities are impacted and thousands of buildings are destroyed—isn’t simple. Using codes and standards to address wildfire risks to the built environment is a critically important activity, but it is also quite intricate. To make the job of elected officials and AHJs easier, NFPA recently consolidated its wildfire-related documents into one convenient package, NFPA 1140, Standard for Wildland Fire Protection. A two-page, downloadable explainer, “Using Codes and Standards to Reduce Risk in Wildfire-Prone Areas,” has also been created to help local officials, AHJs, and policymakers navigate the complexity of this process. The asset draws connections between sections of NFPA 1140 and the relevant needs of community wildfire protection, from fire protection infrastructure to building materials to defensible space. Part of the Outthink approach Launched last year, NFPA’s Outthink Wildfire™ initiative promotes five key tenets based on decades of experience and research that we believe can make a significant difference in saving property and lives. Two of those five key tenets focus on using codes and standards to help make new construction safer and to address the hazards and exposures that existing homes and businesses face. NFPA 1140—which combines the previous standards NFPA 1051, NFPA 1141, 1143, and NFPA 1144—represents the consensus of wildfire experts on the most effective and efficient means for reducing risk to people and property. As communities consider how to mitigate wildfire dangers to existing and future development, as well as allocate resources for safe and effective emergency response, these standards should serve as the basis for their actions. The two-page explainer on using codes and standards to address wildfire risks notes when and where standards for wildfire mitigation should apply. It points out the relevant chapters of NFPA 1140 and other standards that can be used to protect existing structures. It addresses the need for water supplies and other firefighting infrastructure, including multiple access and egress routes enabling first responders to quickly enter threatened communities and allowing safe evacuation for residents. Finally, it suggests the roles and responsibilities for community officials who may be charged with enforcing elements of the standards. Wildfires are part of our natural environments, and they are inevitable; wildfire disasters are not. Learn more about the value and effectiveness of using codes and standards to bend down the wildfire risk curve for your jurisdiction by downloading our brief explainer here.