Exposure of Buildings to Wildfire: Vulnerabilities and Mitigation Strategies

Thursday, March 3, 2016
3:30 pm
The Riverhouse, BEND, OR

Buildings threatened by wildfire must be able to resist exposure from wind-blown embers. These embers, resulting from burning vegetation and/or other burning structures, can ignite a building directly by accumulation on or against a combustible construction material, or indirectly by igniting combustible vegetation or other materials located near the building. Indirect ignition can result from a radiant heat or direct flame contact exposure to the building. Until recently, building survival has focused on selection, placement and management of vegetation on and near the property. Information on structural materials and building design issues, however, is becoming more widely available and prevalent as a result of research focused on these topics. The focus of this presentation will be to review vulnerable building features and discuss mitigation strategies that can help buildings survive wildfire.

Steve Quarles joined the IBHS Research Center team in 2011. He is the South Carolina High Wind and Hail Underwriting Association chair at the lab. Steve leads the wildfire research effort and assists with wind driven rain research using his expertise on building performance with regard to wildfire and moisture exposures. Prior to joining IBHS, he worked for the University of California as a cooperative extension advisor where he addressed durability and in-service performance issues of wood-frame buildings, particularly those threatened by wildfires. He joined the university in 1985 and joined Cooperative Extension in 2000. During 2007 and 2008, Steve worked part-time with the California Office of the State Fire Marshal where he developed, coordinated and served as an instructor for the educational program related to the Wildland Urban Interface (wildfire) Building Code and Standards (Chapter 7A in the California Building Code).