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Fire Resistance

California's wildfires have become more frequent and intense in recent years due to rising temperatures and megadroughts. The state has seen an increase in the number of large fires (10,000 acres or more) and the area burned by wildfires over the past 20 years.  In 2023 the state had more residences at risk from wildfire than the next ten states in the union combined.  Insurance companies are raising rates or pulling out all together in response.

Natural disasters are an unfortunate fact of life and business.  Investing in a building with superior fire resistance and strength offers resilience and could be the difference between recovery and ruin.  The building code has attempted to address the dangers of living in the urban-wildland interface zone through limiting ventilation screen openings into attics and specifying ignition resistant siding and safety glazing in windows.  The fact remains however that typical residential and small commercial building walls are Type V non-rated construction.

wild fire in California

The Energy Mass Wall can be a component in a Type I construction and has a fire rating of four hours exceeding the highest level the building code recognizes.  Two, three and a half inch concrete membranes, structurally connected with thermally non-conductive glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) spars do the bulk of the work.  Ignition proof, the exterior membrane of concrete resists fire with embodied water, chemically locked in the concrete matrix.  The core of fire-retardant foam plastic insulation slows down the heat transfer to the inner membrane of concrete.

The assembly exceeds the fire rating of standard residential construction by 500%

The Energy Mass wall is an important part of a total approach to preparedness and resistance to wildfires, along with limiting burning ember intrusion, sprinklers, maintaining a defensible space and a class A roof.  Insurance companies have taken notice, the Energy Mass wall can lower premiums, decrease the amount of onsite fire water storage and in some cases act as a place of refuge to shelter in place. 

Click here to read about a residence that went through direct exposure to the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma.  The wildfire consumed extensive landscaping and gardens all around and right against the building with no damage to the structure.

Click here to read about a residence constructed with Energy Mass wall that was the only building to survive on the Eastern slope of Mount Vaca in the 2020 LNU Lightning Complex fire.

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