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Aluminum Wrap Used to Protect Homes in California Wildfires | WGN Radio 720

Reno, Nevada (AP) —Martin Dicky said he panicked when a huge wildfire began to run down the slopes towards a wooden house near Lake Tahoe.

The contractor had enough time to do a brief investigation and decided to wrap his mountain house in an aluminum protective cover. A material that can withstand short periods of intense heat is similar to aluminum foil in kitchen drawers, but in tents that wilderness firefighters use as a last resort to protect themselves when trapped in flames. It is modeled on such a shelter.

Diky, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area most of the time, bought $ 6,000 worth of wrapping from Firezat Inc. in San Diego. That’s enough to cover a 1,400-square-foot (130-square-meter) second home on the edge of California. Myers’ small California community.

“It’s pretty expensive, and if they turn off the fire before it’s approaching, you’ll feel stupid,” he said. “But I’m really happy to have done it. When the flames came down the slope, it was quite nerve-wracking.”

The flexible aluminum sheet that Dikey stuck to his $ 700,000 home saved some assets, such as a historic shed managed by the U.S. government, but wasn’t widely used because it was expensive and difficult to install. Hmm.

This week, the fire brigade wrapped the roots of the world’s largest tree and protected it from a wildfire near the famous primeval forest of Sequoia in Sequoia National Park, California. The giant Sherman Tree, other Giant Forest Sequoias, museums and other buildings were also engulfed in the potential for fiery flames.

It happens after another aluminum-wrapped house near Lake Tahoe survives the Cardor fire, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Diki’s house, and the neighboring house is destroyed.

Wrapping dissipates heat from the building and prevents the burning of flammable materials. It also prevents embers in the air, which are the main cause of wildfire spread, from slipping through vents and other openings in homes. With a fiberglass lining and acrylic adhesive, the wrap can withstand heat up to 1,022 degrees Fahrenheit (550 degrees Celsius).

Until about 10 years ago, most of the wildfire damage was blamed for burning homes due to burning flames in nearby vegetation. Recent studies suggest that a larger role is interstructural fires that spread with a domino effect due to the tremendous heat that explodes the manufactured material into flames.

The company that Dicky bought the wraps makes about 95% of its sales from the US Forest and National Park Services. Firezat Inc. Dan Hirning, the founder of, estimates that the Forest Department has wrapped 600 to 700 buildings, bridges, communications towers and other national forest structures this year alone.

Firefighters on social media liken rap to a “big baked potato.” Someone who helped with the installation said he felt like he was “wrapping a Christmas present.”

Forestry officials say they have been using plastic wrap for several years throughout the western United States to protect sensitive structures. On Lake Tahoe, they wrapped the Angola Ridge Observatory, a nationally registered historic fire lookout tower, said Philheitsuke, the commander of the institution.

“Often the forest office structures are wrapped long before the fire,” he said in a statement. After that, the crew can often focus on protecting other buildings and other jobs.

Firezat sells 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide x 200 feet (61 meters) long fire shield rolls for about $ 700 each. Installation by a contractor usually costs thousands of dollars.

“People think we should sell a lot of these things, but not as much as everyone thinks,” Herning said. He said the building wouldn’t burn “unless it was hit”, albeit at a cost.

In 2019, a professor of mechanical engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio published a 10-year study of protective wraps in the Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering Journal, stating that it “showed both significant performance and technical limitations.” I did.

According to Fumiaki Takahashi, the aluminized surface blocked up to 92% of convective heat and up to 96% of radiation.

He said wrapping is most effective when a wildfire burns out with less than 10 minutes of exposure. It is less effective in areas with dense housing where the diffused Inferno can burn for hours without being stopped by firefighters.

In an email, Takahashi said wraps “show that they could be effective, but they need more research to develop protections that are more efficient and lighter.” He said it is not recommended for everyone because it requires a proper installation.

“But once the installation method is established (as in the standard), I will,” he writes. “There were several successful stories about preserving historic sheds by the US Forest Office.”

Harning said most of the individual buyers he had for many years were trying to protect “really expensive cabins, really expensive homes, resorts, etc.” They include homeowners of $ 5 million in land in Malibu, California, and are asked to sign an agreement that the Forest Department is not responsible for protecting their property in some cases.

A Wyoming rancher has attended a conference call between the fire chief and an insurance assessor who was planning to reduce the price if Harning wrapped a cabin worth about $ 1.5 million.

“Often people who can’t get fire insurance or have withdrawn insurance. They want to wrap it up to protect their investment that way,” he said.

Dikey suggests getting additional help in putting the wrapping.

“They recommended that three people could do it in 3.5 hours. I brought in four contractors and worked all night all day … I crushed my ass for 12.5 hours,” he said. Said.

As long as sales are growing as a result of recent wildfires, Herning emphasized that it is a “very seasonal business.”

“For the first five years, new competitors appeared every year. And at the end of each year, I got a call:” Are you interested in buying our inventory? ” He said.

When it starts to rain or snow, he says he often sells nothing for nine months. However, it can change as climate change contributes to more severe weather and more devastating, almost year-round wildfire seasons.

Aluminum Wrap Used to Protect Homes in California Wildfires | WGN Radio 720

Source link Aluminum Wrap Used to Protect Homes in California Wildfires | WGN Radio 720

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