Though fire plays an important part in the forest ecosystems of the South, wildfire presents a grave risk to homes built in or near natural areas. The good news is that all home are not equally at risk, and steps can be taken to reduce risk. Wildfire risk to homes depends on nearby land use, trees, vegetation near the home, and building design and materials.
InterfaceSouth, one of the science delivery centers within the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Integrating Human and Natural Systems unit, provides a Web-based assessment for southern homeowners that quickly generates a risk rating as well as detailed suggestions for reducing wildfire risk.
If you live in a subdivision surrounded by other homes, a development with large open spaces, or an urban area, your wildfire risk is low and this assessment probably doesn’t apply to your situation. But if you live out in or near the woods, this information could help you avoid future losses from a wildfire.
The risk assessment is organized around fuel and structure components. The fuel component assesses the vegetation around the home, while the structure component looks at hazardous aspects related to home design and building materials. During a wildfire, the interaction of fuels and structural elements can determine whether a house will survive.
Read the Wildfire Risk Assessment Guide published by InterfaceSouth and partners at the University of Florida for more background information.