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Rebuilding After Wildfire? States Don’t Require Fire-Resistant Materials

“After record-breaking wildfires this year, thousands of people across the West are still clearing piles of charred debris where their homes once stood in the hope of rebuilding their lives.

With climate change fueling bigger, more destructive wildfires, rebuilding offers an opportunity to create more fire-resistant communities by using building materials that can help homes survive the next blaze.

But most states don't require rebuilding with fire-resistant materials, an NPR analysis has found. While California has mandated wildfire building codes for more than a decade in high risk areas, other states have struggled to approve comprehensive rebuilding codes. In Oregon and Colorado, efforts faced stiff and ultimately successful opposition from home builders associations.

Now, despite recent megafires, most property owners in Western states are not required to use materials like fire-resistant roofing or siding when they rebuild, which could slow the spread of wildfires or stop a house from igniting in the first place.”

Lauren Sommer reports for NPR November 25, 2020.