Fire Ratings and Your Roof

Some parts of the country live the threat of wild fires near their homes. With high winds of spring time it can be a real danger of embers igniting on your roof top. Roof systems must meet and hopefully exceed the minimum requirements for building codes and insurance purposes.

Certified testing laboratories will rate a roof system with Class “A” being the best, Class “B” or Class “C”. When looking for roofing materials, Class “A” fire rating is the highest rating with the best flame retardant materials. A thin roof system may have better fire performance since it has less fuel to feed a fire, although it may be a less durable roof.

Tile and Metal Roof Fire Concerns

Heavy tile roofing increases the risk of a cave in when there is an interior fire. Firefighters are trained not to go on a tile roof when there is a fire present. Metal roofs while they will not burn, they are heat inducers and the intense heat can ignite other parts of the house.

While thatching is no longer popular as a new building material, it is still used in some European countries. Thatcher’s say it is a misconception that thatching burns fast, they say it burns more like a closed book. Thatching is not as popular, not because of the fire possibility but because it can be quite expensive. New thatched roofs were forbidden in London in the 12th century due to the perceived fire risk.

Flammable wooden French Mansard roofs were common on most buildings and contributed to Boston’s great fire in 1872. The great fire of New York in 1835 was said to be caused by a burst gas pipe ignited by a coal stove. The fire got so hot it melted the new copper roofs and the liquid copper ran off the buildings.

If you are unsure of the best fire retardant roofing material for your climate, ask your local roofers for advice.

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