New Building Codes Reflect Recent Fire Destruction

New Building CodesReflect Recent Fire Destruction

11 November 2007

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California, USA — New homes and buildings built in Stevenson Ranch are nowsubject to more stringent building code standards. The state will be enforcingthese new codes Jan. 1, 2008. Local responsibility for code enforcement will bein effect July 1, 2008.

The new building code standards are part of a remapping program by the stateof California and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The updatedbuilding codes, which apply to areas where California is responsible forwildland fire protection, include provisions for ignition-resistant constructionstandards where urban and wildland areas meet. Building officials can use theupdated fire hazard severity zones to determine appropriate constructionmaterials for new buildings in wildland urban zones. Under the new standards,new buildings must include tile or asphalt roofs, dual-paned windows with onepane made of tempered glass, installation of ignition resistant-decking,replacement of vents, and closing off of all spaces underneath buildings.

Stevenson Ranch is an area that falls under the wildland urban zones, wherethe Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is financially responsible forwildland fire protection and prepares Very High Fire Hazard Severityrecommendations for local areas that share responsibility with the department.Local responsibility varies according to location. For Stevenson Ranch, thecounty Fire Department in the Santa Clarita Valley assists the state with localresponsibility.

Stevenson Ranch residents have already taken steps to incorporate precautions,such as installing fire-resistant concrete roof tiles, double-panedheat-resistant windows and enclosed eaves. According to the department, severalresidents in Stevenson Ranch made fire-resistant changes to their property intime for last month’s wildfires.

New homes and buildings will be required to meet the new building codestandards under the remapped fire hazard severity zones. However, owners are notlegally required to make changes to existing buildings.

“These maps were originally created in the 1980s. We are remapping itbecause mapping science has created new information that was not previouslyavailable, which will allow us to be better prepared for fires,” said JuneIljana, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and FireProtection. The remapping effort incorporates improved wildland fire behaviorscience, data sets and understanding of structure ignition mechanisms duringwildfires.

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