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Natural fire protection

Rocket Scientist
Posts: 4588
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi All ;
Thought I would share a little old wisdom about natural fire protection.
It goes against the general idea of this forum, but it is worth considering…   No finish on natural wood (Cedar in particular) none at all !

In the 1700's there were still large forests on the east coast and wildfire was a big concern.
Homes often used cedar shakes as shingles. Cedar boards as siding. Or cedar logs.  Bug resistant , rot resistant, unfortunately also highly flammable.

Lets jump to current times.  Cedar boards/shingles are still used as siding and occasionally as roofing.
More common as roofing is 3 tab asphalt shingles (also highly flammable) or metal roofing (not flammable itself but thin and heats up fast)  
When wood is used now, it is sealed with some kind of product.  This keeps the wood very nice looking. Of course it must be reapplied periodically.
Unfortunately that sealer keeps any water from soaking in.

Lets jump back to the early days.  Many homes were saved with water... each home would be doused and with natural wood their homes soaked up that water , becoming very spark/fire  resistant. Allowing time to soak neigboring buildings.
With a modern sealed wood house. Only with a constant stream of water being applied does your wood home stand a chance of surviving a wildfire. Turn your hose on a different building and the first one will catch...

The down side of course is your wood will grey. Many might find that not acceptable. I think it is...

 I also think  brick houses with slate roofs were a good idea as well... :)

Posts: 2806
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Tips for bushfires in Australia

Plant fire resistant shrubs about the house
cover the house with a sprinkler system that ensures water is -
- over the roof 2 sprinklers- prevents ember attack
- down all walls and windows with smaller sprays connected via coper pipe screwed to the building- reduces radiant heat damage
- the ground around the house to stop a grass fire causing trouble
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Well there are many different types of fires, and what may be the most likely to occur in one area, may not be an issue in another.

Here in Maine we seldom get wildfires, but on my hill alone, out of (6) houses, (5) have burned, and all of them from woodstoves. And what we found on the Fire Department was, the houses with metal roofs faired the worst. That was unlike asphalt roofs, with steel roofs, we could not get water onto the fire. All our streams of water did was cool the steel, while underneath the fire raged, built up heat and rolled across the attic or upper floors.  Now I am not advocating asphalt roofs, in fact I have strongly recommended metal roofs for years because any old barn that is still standing, most likely has a metal roof on it because steel is just impervious to water for years and years. And today, metal roofs are cheaper than asphalt roofs for some crazy reason.

Interestinly enough, all three of my houses have cedar shingles or clapboards allowed to weather to a gray on their own, a look I prefer because it keeps me from having chipped or curled paint to scrape and replace, but again wildfire is not an issue here. I do like your idea of a slate roof, but boy they are expensive roofs!

Fire provention thus for me is ensuring my electrical service is good, meaning GFCI's on the start of every circuit, arc fault circuit breakers, adequate grounding, and 12 guage wire instead of 14 for most outlet and lightining runs. Obviously I go one guage higher on appliances with higher electrical loads. I even have a green switch installed on my current resided house so that when we leave the home, 90% of the electricity is shut down in the house. This is all in an effort to reduce electrical fires, a leading cause of home fires.

As for a woodstove, I have them as this is Maine and it gets cold, but my "woodstoves" are all wood/coal stoves actually, and I burn coal almost exclusively, simply because you cannot have a chimney fire burning anthrcite coal (hard coal and not soft coal). Because it is an intense, radiant heat, I heat my house nicely, but my chances of having a "woodstove" fire are almost reduced to nothing. Even when I do burn firewood, I brush my chimney every three weeks, and make sure when building a chimney, I can clean it with a brush without going on the roof so I am more apt to clean it often.

The only other real diligence is working on stuff in my barn or outside so that if a small engine backfires or something, a fire will not be started in the attached garage. This goes along with gasoline storage, and other flammables.

I am not perfect, but since I own the ONLY house on this hill that has not had a fire, not only am I motivated to keep doing so due to statistics, but it seems to be working.
Posts: 3714
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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The ablity to water before and during a wildfire seems like a hurdle.
I think I would choose to install a fire proof barrier in areas prone to wildfire.
I think stucco would do well against  fire.
It's not used as roofing.
I'm told this is due to weight.
It is three times heavier asphalt shingles,  but comparable to a 1/4" slate roof.

I guess I've been abducted by space aliens. So unprofessional. They tried to probe me with this tiny ad:
177 hours of video: the Permaculture Design Course and Appropriate Technology Course
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