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Wildfire Protection – It's a Wrap


Small cabin wrapped in aluminum sheeting that was protected from wildfire that burnt home next door leaving only charred chimney.
Home protected from fire with aluminum wrap next to un-wrapped home that was burnt to the ground. Associated Press

After the recent fire in Boulder, Colorado, and the wildfire on Pilot Mountain, North Carolina in early December, sudden and devastating events like these seem inevitable in places unthought of before now. Homeowners are looking for innovative ways to protect their properties from these wildfires, and a company called Firezat Inc. has come up with a solution.


Wrap your house in aluminum foil.


Now, don't run out to Costco and start buying up the mega rolls of foil. This product is a heavy-duty flexible aluminum sheeting with a fiberglass backing and acrylic adhesive that can withstand intense heat for short periods of time. It resembles tin foil from the kitchen drawer but is modeled after the tent-like shelters that wildland firefighters use as a last resort to protect themselves when trapped by flames.

The aluminum wrap is expensive and difficult to install – requiring a contractor and crew – but the U.S. Department of The Interior has successfully used it to protect historic cabins and other properties for years.


Fire crews wrapped it around the base of the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest giant old-growth sequoia, last September in California's Sequoia National Park. The colossal tree, some of the other sequoias in the Giant Forest, a museum, and other buildings were also wrapped as the Caldor fire threatened to sweep through. Firefighters on social media who helped install the protection likened the process to wrapping Christmas presents or prepping a baked potato for the grill.


Still relatively new for residential use, Firezat gets about 95% of its sales from the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service. Founding president Dan Hirning estimates the Forest Service wrapped 600 to 700 buildings, bridges, communication towers, and other structures in national forests in 2021.


How Does It Work?


The aluminum wrapping deflects heat away from buildings, helping to prevent flammable materials from combusting. It also keeps airborne embers — a major contributor to spreading wildfires — from slipping through vents and other openings in a home. They can withstand up to 1,022° F temperatures and block up to 92%-96% of convective heat and radiation.


Until about a decade ago, most wildfire damage was blamed on homes catching fire as flames burned nearby vegetation. Recent studies suggest a bigger role is structure-to-structure fires that spread in a domino effect because the tremendous heat causes manufactured materials to burst into flames.


The wrap is not as effective in densely populated areas as fires in close proximity generate heat for longer periods than wildfires that sweep through. It also takes 12-15 hours to install, making it less likely to be deployable in time. However, this wrap can save millions in damages for second homes in the mountains or countryside.


In more congested areas, deploying the wrap on roofs and the sides of the home facing a fire can provide enough buffer to allow firefighters to put out the flames. Designers are looking to create a product that is more quickly and easily utilized for these homeowners.


Note: A homeowner in Lake Tahoe wrapped his 1400 square foot home at a cost of $6000 for the wrap plus labor.


 

Associated Press Photo | Sources: Fox News, Firezat.com


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