Wood Decks Are Not Your Friend In Fire Country, Ever.

“The deck that we had off the house,” she said. “It was a two-tiered deck, and it was redwood, and that’s what brought down our house.” Corey and Danusia Larsen of Malibu CA of the Woolsey Fire that burned over 600 homes.

I’m still trying to find it but I remember seeing a quote from a firefighter in California describing wood decks as organized kindling. That quote sticks in my head and won’t budge. I’ve reviewed hundreds of pictures of homes that are burned and often you can see the outline of a wood deck or the remnants of…

To me the ideal fire resistant home would be stucco or concrete or Hardie board with a metal of concrete roof any decking on it would be a division 7 traffic coating that is fire rated for use in California fire zones.

This article describes the new house that was built by the Larsen’s after the Woolsey Fire. https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/wildfires/2021/05/21/malibu-couple-fireproofs-home-after-losing-everything-in-woolsey-fire

It is my opinion that Cal Fire and other fire authorities will not specifically say or seek to ban wood framed and wood decks as the deck industry would be up in arms. However I will say that wood decks and wood framing exposed does not belong anywhere on a building particularly in a high fire hazard zone. Decking manufacturers will say that their products have passed tests under ASTM standards that is required by ICC-ES to get a report… My counter argument is let’s take an aged outdoors 5 years wood frame deck with wood boards or composite boards and put it into a real life type situation IE ember storm, fire wood stacked underneath the deck, plant growth around it etc and let’s see if that deck really is fire resistant. I will say outright that it is not.

Wood decks and composite decks are not your friends in fire country. If you are in fire country the only thing that will help you in my opinion are concrete decking systems and systems that rely on concrete backer board for their fire rating.

This article won’t make any friends in the deck industry that sell composite and wood decks but I’m just truth telling here.