Improve your home's wildfire safety in less than 60 minutes: Decks

Blog Post created by megan.fitzgerald-mcgowan Employee on Mar 30, 2020

Side by side pictures of pine needles and leaves under a deck.Like many of you, I live in an area with high potential for wildfires.  With spring officially here, we are starting to see temperatures rise, the lingering snow melt, showing us all the work we have to do to prepare  for this year.  When you look around your home, it might seem a bit overwhelming but rather than endeavoring to do it all at once, try breaking your home and yard in to projects, prioritize them based biggest threat or easiest win, and work on one at a time.  Since my state is under a 'stay at home' order due to COVID-19, now is a great time to tackle our priority list, with just a little bit of work each day. 


Science tells us that one of the most important areas you can focus on is your home and the 0-5 foot around the base of it Home ignition zone map highlighting the immediate zone (0-5 feet) from the base of the structure.and attached structures.  This area should be free of combustible materials, which can be a landing bed for embers or can help carry surface fires up to the house.  Much of the work in this area tends to be annual maintenance, raking up leaves, needles, and other vegetative debris.   


Since my family's house is well built with fire resistant construction materials and there isn't much to do there, I decided to focus on what needs to be done the immediate zone (0-5 feet from the base of the house).  One area that stood out is our deck. 


Decks can be a source of vulnerability for your home, a burning deck can ignite the siding or break the glass in windows or doors, allowing fire into the house.  When I looked around

and under my deck, there was a build-up of needles and leaves, which are susceptible to ember ignition.  Armed with a simple rake, less than an hour saw the debris cleared away and our immediate zone looking much better. 


One fifty gallon leaf bag and part of a fifty gallon leaf bag filled with pine needs and oak leaves with rakeWe still have more work to do but I can check this off my annual maintenance list.  For more tips on what actions you can take check out our Preparing Homes for Wildfire page and our Wildfire Research Fact Sheet featuring the Immediate (noncombustible) zone. 


In light of the current COVID-19 situation, it is reasonable that folks aren't necessarily in the mindset of preparing for fire season, but now might be the perfect time.  Many states, counties, and cities across the U.S. are under stay at home orders.  To help break up the monotony, get outside for 30-60 minutes and do something to help improve your home's chances of survival during a wildfire. 


As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.