This is a guest blog courtesy of the U.S Forest Service Southern Research Station. Photo courtesy of FEMA.
Wildfires play an important part in forest ecosystems, but they present a risk to homes built in or near natural areas; however all homes are not equally at risk. Wildfire risk to homes depends on nearby land use, trees, vegetation near the home, and building design and materials.
InterfaceSouth, one of the science delivery centers within the Southern Research Station Integrating Human and Natural Systems unit, provides a Web-based wildlife risk assessment for southern homeowners that quickly generates a risk rating as well as detailed suggestions for reducing wildfire risk.
If you live in a subdivision surrounded by other homes, a development with large lawns and open spaces, or in an urban area, your wildfire risk is low and this assessment probably doesn’t apply to your situation. But if you live out in or near the woods, this information could help you avoid future losses from a wildfire.
The risk assessment is organized around fuel and structure components. The fuel component assesses the vegetation around the home, while the structure component looks at hazardous aspects related to home design and building materials. During a wildfire, the interaction of fuels and structural elements can determine whether a house will survive.
Read the Wildfire Risk Assessment Guide published by InterfaceSouth and partners at the University of Florida for more background information.