Fires in wildland urban interface (WUI) communities are a rapidly growing problem in the US. The last 15 years contains six of this century’s top ten most damaging U.S. single fire events; all of these events occurred in WUI communities. Tens of millions of homes in 72,000 communities are at risk of WUI fires. Since 2000, over 38,000 homes have been lost to WUI fires in the U.S.
This morning at NFPA’s Conference & Expo, Dan Gorham of NFPA outlined fire protection in the WUI, and an examination of fire behavior including the influential elements of fuel, weather and topography. Fire behavior, combined with key factors of water supply and evacuation should be considerations, among others, to help inform decision-making about new housing developments.
NFPA standards help provide a baseline for fire protection in the WUI. NFPA 1144, Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire, and NFPA 1141, Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural, and Suburban Areas, address hazards to structures at the wildland interface and appropriate mitigation measures.
NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking action for preparing their homes from wildfire risks. To save lives and property from wildfire, NFPA's Firewise Communities program teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together and take action to prevent losses.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation recently release a report Pathways for Building Fire Spread at the Wildland Urban Interface. Understanding pathways and their contribution to fire risk will help inform future editions of the relevant NFPA standards. The goal of the research project was to identify pathways for fire spread at the WUI and identify gaps in information to inform prevention and protection strategies.