Ma­te­ri­als mat­ter most in fire-re­sis­tant homes

In­clude es­cape plan with at least two routes and prac­tise it with the whole fam­ily

Montreal Gazette - - HOME FRONT - Mike Holmes and his son, Mike Jr. are back! Watch Holmes And Holmes on HGTV Canada. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit makeitright.ca. MIKE HOLMES

There are about 24,000 house fires each year in Canada that re­sult in an av­er­age of 377 deaths, and 3,048 in­juries. While you hope that it never hap­pens to you, some­times ac­ci­dents oc­cur, whether it’s due to a kitchen fire, wild fire or other sources. I’m not say­ing this to scare peo­ple, but to stress the im­por­tance of build­ing safe, fire-re­sis­tant homes, hav­ing the right alarms in place, and cre­at­ing an es­cape plan in case of dis­as­ter.

As we wrap up Fire Preven­tion Week, I wanted to take the op­por­tu­nity to talk about some of the ways we can build homes that are bet­ter re­sis­tant to fire.

STRENGTH­EN­ING BUILD­ING EN­VE­LOPE

The smartest money you can spend on your home is in your build­ing en­ve­lope. When you build right from the out­side in, you’re guard­ing your home against the el­e­ments, and pro­tect­ing the in­vest­ment in­side.

It’s about choos­ing the right ma­te­ri­als that will re­sist flame

or won’t ig­nite when struck with a spark. How you build the out­side will play a big role on your home’s fire re­sis­tance.

From your foun­da­tion all the way up to your roof, the ex­te­rior of your home is your first line of de­fence against the spread of flame through wild­fires or other nat­u­ral causes.

Con­crete has a high nat­u­ral re­sis­tance to flame, and is slow to trans­fer heat, mak­ing con­crete foun­da­tions, as well as foun­da­tions built us­ing In­su­lated Con­crete Forms (ICF) a smart choice when it comes to build­ing a fire re­sis­tant home.

I love a metal roof. It’s en­ergy ef­fi­cient, long-last­ing (it can last up­wards of 50 years) and doesn’t ig­nite. While metal is my per­sonal choice, clay and fi­bre­glass based shin­gles can pro­vide some level of fire re­sis­tance as well. No mat­ter your ma­te­rial choice, use a fire-re­sis­tant un­der­lay­ment if pos­si­ble to stop the flames from spread­ing to the in­te­rior of your home.

Your win­dows, at min­i­mum should be dual paned. In case of a fire, the first pane of a win­dow will gen­er­ally shat­ter, but the sec­ond pane re­mains in­tact, and heats up more slowly, help­ing to pre­vent breaks and cracks that could cause harm.

When it comes to your en­try­ways, pay close at­ten­tion to the fire rat­ing. This is the length of time a ma­te­rial will be able to re­sist fire. De­pend­ing on the door’s ma­te­rial, you could be look­ing at a fire rat­ing of 20 min­utes, to up­wards of 90 min­utes.

If space on your lot al­lows, keep garages and sheds de­tached from the main home. We tend to store many of our most flammable ma­te­ri­als in these spa­ces. Keep­ing the units sep­a­rate can stop flames from spread­ing to you main home, keep­ing you more pro­tected. If you have an at­tached garage, the fire rat­ing on the wall that con­nects the home is es­pe­cially im­por­tant!

SLOW­ING THE SPREAD

When a fire starts in­side the home, the most im­por­tant thing is that you and your fam­ily es­cape quickly. You’ll want to choose in­door ma­te­ri­als that slow the spread of flame from room to room, so that you have enough time to evac­u­ate and have a safe path to do so.

Dry­wall is pretty fire-re­sis­tant on its own, though there are prod­ucts on the mar­ket that in­crease that re­sis­tance. If the flame burns through the wall, your choice of in­su­la­tion could be at risk of com­bus­tion. On some of our job sites, we’ve been us­ing an in­su­la­tion that’s made from stone wool, and can with­stand up to 1,000 de­grees with­out burn­ing.

Think about what snakes through the twists and turns of your home: it’s your vents and duct­work. Flames can en­ter a home through the vents, so cover up any open­ings with a metal mesh. Make sure to keep the area clean of de­bris, too. Em­bers could catch on lint, dust or de­bris.

Fi­nally, make sure you have a fire es­cape plan in place, and prac­tise it with your kids. You need, at min­i­mum, two pos­si­ble es­cape routes, and a des­ig­nated meet­ing area a safe dis­tance from the home.

Even small fires need to be treated se­ri­ously. Fire ex­tin­guish­ers are a tool meant to help you get out in case of fire. No mat­ter how big the flame is, make your es­cape and call the fire de­part­ment.

ALEX SCHULDTZ/THE HOLMES GROUP.

How you build the out­side of your home will play a big role in its fire re­sis­tance.

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