Do you know if your roof is in optimal condition in the event of a wildfire?  The Marin County Fire Department Community Wildfire Protection has some excellent guidelines to help you determine if you need to replace your roof. Read on…

If your roof has reached the end of its service life, it should be replaced. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) recommends hiring a professional roofing contractor to replace or repair your roof covering.

If you have an untreated wood shake roof, the only solution for reducing your wildfire risk is to replace it with a rated roof covering. Regardless of your fire hazard, given that many Class A roof coverings are available, IBHS recommends installing a Class A covering if you are living in a wildfire-prone area.

The roof covering and edge are the most vulnerable part of a home. Because of its large, relatively horizontal surface, the roof has the most severe exposure to all elements, including sun and rain, and during a wildfire, embers. Because of these exposures, roof coverings tend to require more maintenance and typically have a shorter service life than other construction materials used on the outside of homes.

Fire ratings for roofs provide a measure of the amount of protection. Class A provides the highest protection and Class C the lowest.  At a minimum, unrated roofs, such as an untreated wood shake roof, should be replaced by a rated roof. Class A roofs are commonly available and can be very affordable, so they can be well worth the cost.  Regardless of roof type, it should be kept in good condition and free of combustible debris.  Your local building and fire departments would know about any special requirements that may apply to your community. 

Roofing materials can obtain a Class A rating based on the covering alone (a stand-alone Class A covering) or the covering and an underlying material used to enhance fire performance (Class A by assembly). The fire rating for roof coverings is determined by following a standard test procedure developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), called the Standard Test Method E-108. This test evaluates flame spread over the roof covering, the ease with which fire can penetrate through the roof (and into the attic or ceiling space), and the ember generation potential of the roof covering. If flame spread is too large, or if fire penetrates through the roof covering and underlying construction materials, the covering cannot be considered Class A. Please consult with a qualified, licensed roofer and always get 3 bids.

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