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Designing Buildings for Wildfire Defensibility

Wildfire is a growing threat to buildings all over North America; the main solution is recognizing the problem and looking to solve it
October 17, 2022
Read time: 2 mins

As of December 31 last year, 58,733 wildfires across the country had burned more than 7.13 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado were among the states most susceptible to wildfires, but they are no longer alone, as drought conditions have impacted other states. The devastating Marshall Fire in Colorado ruined nearly 1,100 residences in Boulder County.

As communities rebuild, resilience has moved to the forefront of design. Joining us today is Ryan Downs, a Senior Planner with Wold Architects & Engineers, which has been working with clients to develop wildfire defensibility measures that allow residents to move back into their homes with more confidence.

Ryan begins by saying that wildfire defense is about three things.

  • Density
  • Leadership
  • Global warming

The Highlights:

  • A public safety architect must understand threats to communities
  • Development density is a big challenge to fire resistance
  • Communities aren’t always focused on resistance
  • Climate change is causing more extreme warming patterns
  • Wold is bringing a bigger-picture view to its clients
  • Emergency Op Centers are the epitome of hardened structures
  • Resilience is now part of any design conversation
  • Fire resistance and aesthetics can coexist
  • Understanding the nature and limitations of building materials
  • Cost is a function of community priorities and risk assessment
  • Wold builds a budget strategy into its designs
  • Best Practices and standards are design guides
  • Designing to influence municipalities
  • Collaboration and communication are keys to wildfire defensibility.

This video is from B D+C, a commercial construction magazine that is a sister publication of ProTradeCraft. You can see more videos like this on their HTV channel or their YouTube channel.

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