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Surviving Wildfires With Homes Built With Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

residential fire damage

This home located in Rancho Bernardo, California, survived a firestorm near San Diego thanks to its fireproof walls built with insulated concrete forms (ICFs). Two thousand other homes in the area were destroyed.

residential fire damage

And this home was hit last year with wildfire. The intense heat melted the vinyl window, but otherwise, it was not affected in any way. The home, located outside Escondido, California, was also constructed with insulated concrete form walls.

This San Diego wildfire below devastated many homes. There are three still intact, and they are all homes built with ICFs!

San Diego, California, wildfire

What Are Insulated Concrete Forms?

An insulated concrete form (ICF) block looks like this:

ICF Pro-Link slider1

ICF blocks are stacked together to form the exterior walls of the home, and then concrete is poured into the hollow core to create a highly insulated and wildfire-resistant, concrete-and-steel wall assembly:

ICF Pro-Link slider2

To learn more about ICFs, click here.

Disaster-resilient home rendering built with Logix ICFThis is what a wildfire-resistant home built with ICFs looks like:

Strong and safe ICF homes are not expensive, but when wildfires threaten, they’re priceless.

First, the highly insulated, concrete-and-steel Logix ICF building envelope will protect as well as provide comfort and peace of mind to your family during the threatening event itself.

Then, in the days and weeks afterward, while your community’s utilities and infrastructure are being repaired and you have no air conditioning or heating due to a power outage, the air-tight and highly insulated ICF envelope will continue to surround your family in an ambiance of relative comfort, with moderate temperatures and humidity levels.

Here are the four most important wildfire-resistant features of an ICF home:

ICF Walls Have a 4-Hour Fire Rating

Concrete and steel ICF walls have a 4-hour fire rating as opposed to 15 minutes for a comparable wood-framed wall. ICF walls have been tested up to 2000° Fahrenheit for up to four hours in fire conditions. Wood-framed walls usually collapsed within 60 minutes, but the ICF wall did not experience any structural damage.

Wood does burn, however, concrete does not. Concrete does not bend when it gets hot, like steel would. Concrete will withstand heat of several thousand degrees, which is not uncommon in a typical house fire. While the contents of a home are still flammable, concrete itself is not. You have no chance of an electrical fire being concealed inside a concrete wall.

Concrete walls prevent fire from spreading into the interior of the building. The concrete walls block enough heat from passing through the walls to start a fire on the interior for up to four hours. Wood-framed walls allow enough flame and heat to pass through to start a fire inside within just an hour.

Logix Pro Buck™ICF Window and Door Bucks Add Even More Wildfire Resistance

An ICF system with a foam buck offers insulation around the opening and offers a barrier against air and moisture puncture. It will provide a constant concrete barrier around the opening for utmost strength.

Steel and Concrete ICF Floors Provide Protection Between Floors

ICF floors also offer protection from fire and prevent a fire from spreading from one floor to another.

Metal Roofs Make a Great Fire-Resistant “Lid”

A steel/metal roof is extremely fire-resistant and is a perfect “lid” for a wildfire-resistant ICF home. It insulates against sparks, preventing a fire from spreading to your home. Not only can a steel roof help save you more money by keeping your heating and cooling costs low, but it is also great for the environment.

Steel roofs are also energy-efficient. In the summer months, they deflect sunlight from being absorbed, and in the winter, they act as an insulator, reflecting and circulating the air from inside the building.

ICFs Also Build Great Safe Rooms Within A Home

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a safe room is typically a room within a home made out of concrete and steel, and it must meet FEMA criteria. Safe rooms provide a place of protection against severe weather, including wildfires.

A safe room is created by building any room with ICF walls, pouring a “concrete lid” on top, and installing a steel door. A safe room is fire-resistant and is a great place to store your valuables. Adding a safe room into your home build or existing home is both affordable and straightforward.

Here is a recent news clip showing a California homeowner building his new wildfire-resistant home with ICFs after last year’s wine country wildfire destroyed his home in Tubbs, California:

Learn More/Next Steps

Insulated Concrete Forms are the perfect start toward building a cost-effective and highly wildfire-resilient home or building.

View/download this infographic to learn how you can further optimize the power of Logix ICF to provide maximum protection, peace of mind and comfort from wildfires.

Click here to learn all about ICFs and disaster-resilience.

By |2020-10-14T10:16:26-04:00July 20th, 2018|

About the Author:

President, Logix Brands Ltd.