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The original item was published from 6/29/2023 1:59:35 PM to 6/29/2023 2:02:44 PM.

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Posted on: June 29, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Wildfire Ready: Deck and Balcony Safety Considerations for Wildfire Season

NF Deck and Balcony

Deck Safety Tips:  

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. 

  1. Combustible materials should not be stored or allowed to pile up beneath decks.  Maintain a noncombustible zone under the entire footprint of the deck and check it regularly. 
  1. Routinely remove debris that accumulates in between deck board gaps and debris that can accumulate in the spaces between the deck and your house. 
  1. When planning and building decks consider using fire-retardant treated lumber and deck boards that comply with California Building code requirements.  

Many existing decks are built with combustible materials including redwood and cedar. Replacing or building new 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. Consider screening or installing noncombustible siding around the perimeter of the underside of the deck to prevent ember cast intrusion, but make sure you consider ventilation needs. 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. 

Balcony Safety Tips:  

While preparing for wildfire season, continue to maintain defensible space on and underneath balconies attached to your home. During a wildfire event combustible materials or yard waste underneath a balcony could lead to vertical fire extension from the ground up the side of your house. Additionally, ember cast from a fire could land on items on your balcony extending the fire to your house as a direct starting point.  

  1. Keep surface area clear of plant debris, especially leaves or needles.  
  1. Enclose or Screen the underside of the balcony with non-combustible material. 
  1. Choose balcony furniture that is fire-resistant or non-combustible. 
  1. Never BBQ or store propane tanks on/in your attached balcony.  

Learn more by visiting our Property Owners Resource Library at srcity.org/WildfireReady. 

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