Decks are often one of the most beautiful parts of a home, but they can also contribute to the spread of a wildfire. There are several critical steps that you can take, that range from the type of material used to construct the balcony or deck, to keeping the area underneath clean and clear and by creating defensible space.
Many existing decks are built with combustible materials including redwood and cedar. Replacing or building decks with higher-density hardwoods and plastic composite decking makes them less vulnerable to ignition by embers. There are decking products that comply with current building standards and requirements for wildfire-prone areas. For specific product recommendations, consult with a licensed contractor or a reputable retailer. Regardless of the type of material your deck is built with, measures should be taken to minimize the exposure to embers. During fire season, decks and balconies should be kept clear of leaves and needles that accumulate between deck boards and the side of your home.
Do not store combustible items or allow leaf litter and other debris to collect underneath your deck or balconies. Consider screening or installing noncombustible siding around the perimeter of the underside of the deck to prevent ember cast, but make sure you take ventilation needs into consideration. In the event of a fire, part of your evacuation checklist should include clearing any outdoor furniture, cushions, and flammable material off the deck. These items should either be placed inside or away from your house. We also recommend removing propane tanks off the deck and placing them away from the home in a clear area or out onto your driveway.
Create and maintain a defensible space around your deck. Treat the deck like an extension of your home. If the deck overhangs a slope, additional defensible space will likely be needed downslope to help reduce the potential of fire spreading to the underside of the deck.
Learn more by visiting our Property Owners Resource Library at srcity.org/WildfireReady.