Preventing Wildfire Damage


Wildfires have burned 1.7 million acres in the United States this year. While some may equate this risk with areas of the country that have arid climates, such as California or Arizona, the reality is wildfires are a danger all over the country. In fact, four Southeastern states (North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama) made 2019's top ten list for number of fires recorded.

The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the risk posed by these fiery disasters. From California attempting to ensure there are enough personnel to fight these blazes to all wildfire-fighting agencies attempting to change up their methods to account for social distancing measures; trying to control the spread of the virus has hindered modern tactics used to stop the spread of wildland fires.

The pandemic also gives people and businesses new obstacles to address while planning their wildfire prevention response. This includes the added exposure of properties being left unoccupied and possibly less protected, due to measures taken to slow the spread of the virus.

Now more than ever, Philadelphia Insurance Companies encourages policyholders to learn more about this exposure to keep people safe and prevent structural damage.


Brush fires can attack a building in three different ways:
1. Flying embers are blown by the wind and ignite combustible external elements. This is the most common method.
2. Fire spreads from a bush to the walls of a structure.
3. Radiant heat from high flames around a building causes the structure to reach an auto-ignition point.

When the fire hazard is high, it is important to keep a clear defensible space. PHLY recommends there be a minimum clearance of 300 feet for grass and brush fire exposure and a minimum of 500 feet for forest fire exposure.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Established roadways provide engineered features to offer some barrier and allow access for firefighting personnel, fire-mitigation efforts, and evacuation.
  • Skylights and gutters are not favorable building characteristics as combustible debris can get trapped in them.
  • Water accessibility greatly affects the ability to fight a fire.
  • The construction of the building or type of roof is also important. Preferred roofs are non-combustible, pre-cast, poured, concrete, slate, metal, or composite.

Recommendations
PHLY has many recommendations to help protect businesses, including:

  • Create and maintain defensible space around your property
  • Strategically place fire-resistant plants outside the building to resist the spread of fire
  • Cover chimneys with a screen
  • Ask your utility company to trim trees away from power lines
  • Check conditions of fire extinguishers within the property
  • Practice fire drills and emergency evacuation
  • Note the location of the closest fire hydrant or water supply

Click on the button below for more details on defensible space, fire-safe landscaping, and other mitigation techniques:

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Additional Resources

IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company are for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

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