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 build or rebuild the balcony or deck, keeping the area under 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 make them less vulnerable to ignition by embers. There are decking products that comply with current building standards and requirements for wildfire-prone areas. 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 underneath your deck or balconies. If you have no other options, consider screening or installing noncombustible siding to the structure, 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 and 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.