Fire Risk in the US
According to 2017 Verisk data reported by the Insurance Information Institute, 4.5 million US homes are at high or extreme risk from wildfire. California is the most vulnerable state with 2,044,800 homes at risk. Montana and Idaho have the highest risk by the percentage of households at 28% and 26% respectively. Colorado ranks at #3 in both the number of homes and the percentage of all homes at risk. Oklahoma ranks first in the number of acres burned in 2016 with 767,800 acres lost to wildfire and 7 other states have more than 13% of homes at risk.
Bear in mind that the numbers above relate only to risk in wildfire-prone regions. The numbers are even more disturbing for the risk of house fires from common causes in all regions of the US. In this article, we'll explain how DECRA stone-coated steel roofing products provide the absolute best fire protection for upscale homes without sacrificing elegance or beauty.
Fire Damage in the U.S. Costs Billions
Statistics from FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) are a mix of good news and bad news for homeowners. While the number of residential fires in the decade prior to 2017 at 1,319,500 represents a 6.2% decrease in the period starting from 2008, fire-related deaths are up by 9.6% at 3,400 in 2017. Total losses added up to a 12% increase with $23 billion in fire damages. In 2017 alone there were 371,500 residential fires and the leading causes were:
-Heating systems 9.1%
-Electrical malfunction 6.5%
How Metal Roofing Plays a Vital Role in Home Fire Protection
In any residential fire scenario, the roof plays a vital role in fire resistance and protection. Local fire resistance requirements will depend on the fire hazard rating for the region in which you live. In wildfire zones, the home is at risk from external ignition sources such as flying embers and the roof is the first line of defense so the highest Class A fire rating is usually required.
Flying embers can be especially hazardous for high-end homes with prominent Spanish tile themes. Traditional barrel and scallop style clay tiles, with their distinctive corrugated “s” curves, are fireproof materials but they also provide numerous voids where debris can accumulate across the roof. Tucked into these nooks, storm debris such as twigs and dry leaves are the perfect kindling for flying embers.
DECRA stone-coated steel roofing systems eliminate the roof debris fire hazard with a unique interlocking system to eradicate the voids where flammable debris can collect without sacrificing the appeal of Spanish or Old World clay tile elegance. Debris can accumulate in the gaps and voids of cupped shingles and warped wood shake roofs as well to a lesser extent. A protective interlocked DECRA roof system greatly reduces the risk of the roof deck and framing igniting in regions where there is a high risk for flying embers.
In all regions city, state, and county building codes require minimum standards for fire resistance depending upon the building type. The UL 790 (ASTM E 108) Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings rates roofing material performance when exposed to fire sources originating from outside the building. To meet UL standards, roof coverings must provide a degree of protection against flame penetration to the underlying deck and the attic space without producing flying embers, or slipping from their installed position. Roofing materials are then classified with 3 fire ratings based on UL test performance:
Class A: All DECRA metal roofing products carry this highest UL fire rating. Class A materials have proven themselves effective against the most severe fire testing. They provide the best protection against flame penetration as stand-alone roofing products with excellent resistance to surface flame spread without the need for chemical treatments or extra underlying roofing materials.
Class B: Effective against moderate fire exposure. Wood shakes and shingles must be impregnated with fire-retardant chemicals to meet Class B requirements and Class A can only be earned with extra materials required for "by assembly" fire ratings (see below).
Class C: Effective against light fire exposure only, Class C materials include reconstituted wood products such as plywood and particleboard.
Unrated: Materials unable to meet any of the above classifications.
Shortcomings of Traditional Roofing Materials for Fire Protection
Many conventional roofing materials must rely on additional underlying materials to achieve a "by assembly" rating of Class A fire resistance. Class B wood shake or shingle products treated with fire-resistant chemicals may still require a layer of 72-pound felt, also known as "cap sheet" to reach Class A fire resistance. Even a Class B aluminum roof may require the Type 72 rolls or a panelized gypsum layer such as DensDeck underneath to earn a class A rating.
DECRA stone-coated steel is a stand-alone Class A rated fire-resistant material but the entire roofing system including underlayment, and plywood all need to meet manufacturer's recommendations to achieve a by assembly Class A rating. With any by assembly fire rating, all installations and underlying materials must adhere meticulously to the manufacturer's specifications.
While asphalt and composite shingles, concrete, and clay tile may carry a Class A fire rating they all result in much heavier roofing profiles requiring sturdy supporting deck structures. Wood shakes fall to unrated or Class C if they are untreated for fire resistance, or Class B at best without the extra materials and steps we discussed above.
Standing seam metal roofs have excellent fire resistance but the elegance and beauty of a shake or tiled roof must be sacrificed. Their bland utilitarian appearance is unthinkable for the most upscale homes which rely on the aesthetic appeal of prominent roof designs to enhance curb appeal while preserving classical architectural detail and increasing home value.
Why DECRA is the Ultimate Metal Roof For Fire Protection
All DECRA roofing products are made from multiple layers of durable stone-coated steel with unmatched fire resistance, earning the highest Class A rating as a stand-alone roofing product. DECRA offers a comprehensive line of products able to achieve the highest Class A fire rating without sacrificing elegance or beauty on sophisticated roof designs. DECRA metal roofs can replicate any traditional roofing style including:
DECRA Villa Tile is the classic barrel-style for Old World Italian grandeur and detail
DECRA Tile provides essential scalloped style for classical clay tile themes
DECRA Shingle XD replicates the distinct line of heavy architectural shingles for traditional styles
DECRA Shake XD for the rustic appeal of hand-split wood shakes
DECRA Shake for the rich dimensions of cedar shakes
Unlike conventional roofing materials, DECRA combines strength and beauty in the lightest weight. The average DECRA roof weighs in between a feathery 3,700 and 4,500 pounds. That means that a complete tear-off of the existing roof can often be avoided with a DECRA remodeling or fire-resistance upgrade. That's simply not the case with other Class A fire rated roofing materials such as clay tile or fiber cement which can weigh between 18,000 and a whopping 45,000 pounds and are prone to fractures and cracking. Asphalt shingles may achieve the Class A fire rating but even normal exposure to natural elements limits their lifespan to 10-20 years, meaning that they'll need to be replaced every decade or so, and at 12,000 pounds they'll require a complete tear-off before any reroofing.
About DECRA Metal Roofs
DECRA roofing products are not only the absolute best material for stand-alone Class A fire resistance. DECRA metal roofs are the walk-away champion for endurance, strength, hail impact resistance, and wind uplift. and is the only roofing material in the industry which can actually add shear strength for earthquake resistance. DECRA roofing products are the one-and-done roofing solution, eliminating the cost of future roof replacements, with the industry's most comprehensive transferrable lifetime guarantee.