Mar 10

Protecting Your Home From Wildfire

REAL ESTATE BEAT    

Protecting Your Home From Wildfire
New Products for the Home Owner
Written by Bill Barksdale


On June 30th I went to a very interesting demonstration at the Laytonville Fire Department that Willits Fire Chief, Jeff Smith, told me about.  The demonstration was of a product called Thermo-Gel. This is a simple to use Class A fire retardant gel that you spray on your house using a garden hose and small tank, kind of like lawn spray or paint.

This product was described to us as a non-toxic polymer & mineral oil based liquid that has super water absorbent properties.  It is described as environmentally friendly, non-toxic to plants, pets and people.  I went up and rubbed the gel on my fingers after the demonstration and didn’t wash it off just to see.  It’s just a gel and I had no reaction or ill effect.

Here’s how it works.  When a fire is on its way (The gel is only active for 3-6 hours before it dries out.  But can be reactivated by misting it) You hook a 1 gallon tank to your hose with at least 45 PSI water pressure then spray it on, much like spraying paint except you stand well back.  Per the literature and demonstrator, it adheres to almost any surface including wood, cement, stucco, glass, your car, propane tanks etc.  No electricity is required.  It operates with water pressure.

In the demonstration a firefighter who uses this stuff professionally, took a blow torch and held it about six inches from a piece of untreated plywood siding.  It took seven seconds to ignite the untreated siding.

Next he sprayed siding with Thermo-Gel then held the blow torch about six inches from the siding and it took over two minutes for the product to begin breaking down, still not igniting but getting there.  We were told that a forest fire moves past relatively quickly and houses sprayed with this stuff usually survive.  They had a photo of a burned area with a few houses intact.  They were the ones, the firefighter told us, that had been strayed with Thermo-Gel. He actually helped to fight that fire and was very enthusiastic about the product.

When the fire passes, you simply wash it off, apparently with no harm to your house, plants etc.  You can learn more about this product by going to www.thermo-gel.com.

The Laytonville Fire Department is selling what they call the Home Owner’s Package of Thermo-Gel which consists of four 1-gallon jugs of the stuff plus a special nozzle that attaches to a garden hose.  This package covers about 4,000 square feet and costs $425.00.  Cheap insurance.  I bought it on the spot along with a number of other people who saw the demonstration.

There are other products out there to help you protect your house.  An expensive system called FireBreak Spray Systems actually installs emitters like those that spray water on produce in the grocery store. These emitters spray fire retardant on your house and can be activated manually or automatically.  The fully installed system costs about $12,000.  Find out more at www.firebreaksystems.com.

Flame Seal is a product that you paint onto your house then apply paint over it.  Apparently, this product is heat activated.  When it gets hot enough it expands and creates a thick fire resistant membrane on the surface.  This product is somewhat caustic and you have to wear protective clothing, as well as rubber gloves and face protection to apply it.  This company also makes a spray that you can apply to untreated wood, draperies and other surfaces to make them fire resistant.  Find out more at www.flameseal.com.  This product is tested on animals so you will have to decide if you want to patronize this company or not.

I cannot make any warranties regarding these products or their effectiveness.  Do your research and go with what you feel makes sense.

Of course, you should have an ABC rated fire extinguisher in your car at all times and a few in your home, garage, shop etc.  Don’t drive your car on dry grass in the summer.  Never throw cigarettes or other burning material out in a wildland area.  Never have an outdoor fire in California in the dry season. If you weed whack or mow in a dry area, don’t do it in the heat of the day and always have your fire extinguisher with you.   If you see suspicious fire related activity call the CDF Arson Hotline at 1-800-468-4408 or 911.  All of this stuff is just good ole’ common sense.  Be fire safe.  And don’t forget to enjoy life!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Bill Barksdale: I have been selling real estate in the Willits/Mendocino Co. market for over 18 years. I can be reached at Coldwell Banker Mendo Realty Inc. PH: 707.459.8888 or Email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I hope you will find my site (Bill Barksdale's Real Estate Site) of use to your home buying or selling a home now or in the future.

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