In the last few years, the Western United States has seen wildfires like never before. Fires like the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire, the Carr Fire, and the Camp Fire are among the largest and deadliest wildfires ever recorded in California and have caused massive amounts of destruction. Over a million acres of land in California burned in 2018, with more than $3.5 billion worth of properties destroyed.
With this much destruction—and predictions for more devastating fires in the future—many people, from homeowners to legislators, are looking for ways to keep their homes safe and prevent flames from spreading.
The roofing industry is getting involved as well, as they adjust to comply with new legislations and codes and an increased demand for metal roofing and fire resistant materials.
New Fire Codes for Roofers
One of the most notable responses to the recent wildfires is new legislation regarding fire codes. The new Wildland Urban Interface Code (WUI) requires some areas in California to have at least 100 feet of “fuel modification” space around their homes. This means they need to have 100 feet of land without combustible vegetation or materials surrounding their building, a space that can be left empty or replaced with drought-tolerant, fire resistant plants and materials that are more spaced out to decrease the possibility of catching fire.
Other California legislation includes requiring the use of approved fire resistant materials in all new homes and authorizing officers to evacuate areas where safety hazards exist. California is not the only state to pass fire safety legislation either; parts of Nevada have adopted the 2018 International Fire Code, and Phoenix, AZ is considering adopting it as well.
This new legislation means quite a bit of change for roofing contractors, who must keep up with all the new regulations and ensure they are up to date with the most recent requirements.
Metal Roofing Demands Increase
Another effect of the recent rise in wildfires is an increased demand for metal roofing. Metal roofs are fire resistant, meaning they meet the requirements of the new fire codes and provide great protection from wildfires. Homeowners love that they not only meet these requirements, but also look amazing as well. Despite the image of a simple metal roof that comes to most people’s mind, metal roofs have actually become very customizable and aesthetic. Metal roofs can now be made to look like a shingle or shake roof and come in a wide variety of colors.
In addition to a great look and fire resistance, most metal roofs also come with a 50 year warranty, which means a metal roof will last for life. Combined together, the fire resistance, aesthetic appeal, and long warranty has led to a huge uptick in the number of homeowners requesting them.
Wildfires are more prominent than ever before and working to reduce and prevent them has become an important challenge for the Western United States. As laws get passed updating the fire safety codes along the west coast and consumer demand changes to favor fire resistant products, the roofing industry must adapt to keep up. This means staying up to date on all the most recent fire codes, developing more fire-safe products that can withstand and prevent wildfires, and being ready for whatever change might come around the bend next.