April 1, 2024
Commercial Building Wildfire Mitigation and Best Practices

Wildfire Preparedness and the Business Community 

It is critical for business continuity that businesses look to strengthen their assets against the threat of wildfire. While most home hardening and defensible space guidelines focus on residential structures, we recognize that there are some important nuances for commercial structures that are important to pay attention to.

  1. Vents and Gaps
  2. Subfloors and Enclosing Decks
  3. Gutters
  4. Screens for Windows and Doors 
  5. Bird Stop and Gaps
  6. Evaporative Air Cooling System, Air Inlets and Outlets
  7. Eaves and Soffits 
  8. Roofs and Screening for Tanks
  9. Perimeter Fence

Different Applications to Consider Based on Your Sector 

The primary consideration is thinking through the assets most important to protect from wildfire threats, and designing the most effective solution and barriers to achieve that goal, for example;

Agriculture: Protection for animals, plants, crops & farm infrastructure 

Essential Services: Direct infrastructure and supporting infrastructure gas, electricity, water & telecommunication 

Warehouses & Factories: Buildings with high-value large fixed and mobile equipment and supporting infrastructure 

Commercial Buildings (retail & trade outlets): Buildings with internal infrastructure and high-value stock

Protecting Perimeter Fencing from Embers - Consider the Surrounding Landscape 

If the commercial property is surrounded by a perimeter fence, this could be a good opportunity to prevent embers traveling along the ground and bringing fire into the property boundary at the ground level. 

Wildfire Defense Mesh can be used as Perimeter Ember Fencing or to enhance an existing fence. It can be attached to the external perimeter fence of an industrial or agricultural property and will allow the fence line to become the first line of defense for the defendable space. The perimeter ember fence will catch the fire front embers blown along the ground. 

Understanding Your Defendable Space, Asset Protection Zone, and Buffer Zones 

The Inner Protection Area (IPA) is the area closest to the business’ assets that need protecting. Incorporating the defensible space and aiming to minimize the impact of radiant heat and direct flame.

The Outer Protection Area (OPA) is located between the IPA and any unmanaged vegetation that aims to reduce the intensity of approaching fire by restricting the pathways to crown fuels, suppressing the level of direct flame, radiant heat, and embers attack on the IPA and the asset. 

Where Wildfire Defense Mesh can be Installed to Protect Business Assets

Here is an example commercial property layout with a set of business assets that need protecting:

Some suggestions on where to apply Wildfire Defense Mesh to this example commercial property;

  1. Defensible Space - Perimeter fencing enhanced with Wildfire Defense Mesh 98 - 60” rolls, applied to existing fencing to prevent ground-level embers from entering the property 
  2. Window Protection - Wildfire Defense Mesh 49” rolls prevent ember and radiant heat from affecting the window area
  3. High-value asset protection: 
    • Stainless steel gabions filled with rocks forming a fence 16’ from the building create radiant heat and ember attack protection 
    • Wildfire Defense Mesh 98 applied between gabions allowing air to pass through and not deflect air upwards where embers can be transported over the barriers 
    • Wildfire Defense Mesh 98 60” rolls positioned above the stainless steel gabions, stopping any embers from reaching the SIP, total height is now 9’
    • The shed with Wildfire Defense Mesh 98 installed on windows, doors, and services to deflect radiant heat 
    • Wildfire Defense Mesh 98 installed on cooling systems 

Understanding How to Meet Net-Free-Area Requirements 

Most building codes regarding Wildfire preparedness apply to residential buildings, but a fire operates the same no matter the property or its purpose, so it’s good to review recommendations for residential applications and apply them to your commercial property. 

One area that might be important for your commercial property is ensuring that by enclosing vulnerable areas with Wildfire Defense Mesh that you continue to meet the Net-Free-Area (or NFA) for any openings that are designed to offer ventilation and airflow into the space.

We have developed instructions to help property owners and contractors calculate the Net-Free-Area with Wildfire Defense Mesh installed, which will determine if additional ventilation is required to meet the needs of your business.