How Fences Can Ignite and Spread Fires

fires prohibited because there is flammable materials for fencing

One of the biggest threats to your property in a wildfire-prone area is the wood fence around it. In this blog post, we will be discussing how fences can ignite and spread fires – and the ways you can help stop the problem.

Fences Lead the Fire Right To Your Home or Barn

Imagine for a minute that you have mice in your kitchen. You just made some bread, and you want to keep that bread hidden from the mice. In this case, it wouldn’t make much sense to sprinkle a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the bread.

When you build a wood or plastic fence connecting to your home or barn, you are essentially creating a trail of breadcrumbs (the fence) to lead fire to the bread (your home or barn).

If the fence is made of wood or plastic, the fire will travel the length of the fence until it meets another structure to burn. This isn’t the only way fences can start and spread fires – research is adding fuel to the discussion.

Studies Show: Wood-Based Fences Are One of Worst Items in a Fire

Recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ran a study to understand better how bad it is to have a wood or plastic composite fence in a fire.

They tested a wide range of configurations (mulch only, fence only, fence plus mulch, parallel fences, and long-range firebrands), fence materials (western red cedar, California redwood, pine, vinyl, and wood-plastic composites), and fence styles (privacy, lattice, and good neighbor).

The researchers found that these types of fences were a problem no matter the configuration, material, or style. 

All materials created firebrands – burning chunks of material that can fly off and travel through the air – that can ignite spot fires downwind. Some of these firebrands traveled up to 156 feet. 

Also, once the mulch and fence ignited, it only took a few minutes for spot fires to ignite downwind.

This means that every combustible fence material, from western red cedar to wood-plastic composites, will cause the fire to spread. The worst part is the spreading can happen from firebrands, the fence igniting spot fires downwind, or just the fire traveling along the length of the fence. 

Their research generated several recommendations, including:

  • Avoiding parallel fences. Even spacing of 3 feet wasn’t enough to prevent the spread of the fire.
  • Remove any combustible fuel near fences.
  • Remove any fence made of combustible materials near structures.
  • Keep debris cleared away from fences

Remove the Problem by Going with Precast Concrete

Some of these recommendations seem impossible – especially if you live in a neighborhood. Even if you live in rural areas, cleaning the debris away can be a massive job.

We recommend working around these recommendations. Bypass them entirely. How? By choosing precast concrete.

Concrete isn’t combustible. It will not burn and will not add fuel to the fire.

In fact, one of NIST’s top recommendations is to choose fences made from non-combustible materials. 

Not only are you saving your fence and structure from burning, but you are also removing potential fuel from the fire. Your fence could be the reason firefighters are able to finally put out the fire.

Contact American Precast Concrete Inc. today if you have any questions about getting your fireproof precast concrete fence today. We work with residential and commercial properties to ensure your property is safe from all fires. 

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