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Chubb Urges Homeowners in Wildfire Areas to Use Fire-Resistive Construction Materials

WARREN, NJ, June 24, 2014—People living in areas prone to wildfires are likely aware that their homes are at risk when the temperatures rise and the humidity drops. But advances in construction materials over the years have added an extra layer of security for those who are building or renovating homes in high-risk wildfire areas.

“There are a lot of things that homeowners can do to reduce the likelihood that their homes will be destroyed by wildfire, but almost nothing can stop hot embers from blowing onto roofs and decks,” said Kevin Fuhriman, catastrophe manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. “That’s why it is encouraging to see that the construction industry and fire officials are promoting the use of building materials that can withstand the ember storms caused by wildfires.”

Chubb Wildfire Defense Services provides wildfire education and property risk assessments to Chubb homeowners customers in 14 Western states and can respond to wildfires through a network of certified wildfire fighters that takes various measures, including moving lawn furniture indoors, setting up temporary perimeter sprinkler systems and, if necessary, applying a highly effective fire-blocking gel to the house.

For those in wildfire-prone areas who are planning to build or renovate their homes, Fuhriman recommends they consider fire-resistive construction, such as:

Roofs: Cedar shake and wooden shingles are like kindling and should not be used. The best options are concrete shingles and tiles, clay tiles and slate. Other options are metal roofs and fiber-cement shingles.

Exterior walls: Construct walls with ignition-resistant building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement, corrugated steel siding or fire-retardant, treated wood. Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.

Windows: Metal frame windows are best. If vinyl clad, choose those with metal reinforcements at the tops and sides. Vinyl clad can melt and sag if not reinforced, opening gaps to the inside. Limit the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation. Dual-pane windows are recommended with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage. Use metal screens that will not ignite when falling embers strike.

Decks and porches: Decks attached to a home or within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials. It is best to enclose the area beneath decks to prevent flammable yard debris from accumulating there. Concrete and stones are best for porches.

Vents: Install flame- and ember-resistive vents to help prevent burning embers from entering the home.

Chimney: Cover the chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-combustible screen. Use metal screen material to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.

Garage: Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from entering.

Other structures: Sheds, fences, awnings, patio furniture, trash cans and welcome mats are often made from flammable materials and should be kept away from the house.

Since its inception in 2008, Chubb’s free loss-prevention service has helped save dozens of homes. Chubb homeowners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and portions of Texas who have not yet registered for the service can do so online at www.chubbwildfiredefense.com.

About Chubb
Since 1882, members of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies have provided property and casualty insurance products to customers around the globe. These products are offered through a worldwide network of independent agents and brokers. The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies is known for financial strength, underwriting and loss-control expertise, tailoring products for the needs of high-net-worth individuals and commercial customers in niche markets and select industry segments, and outstanding claim service.

The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies is the marketing term used to describe several separately incorporated insurance companies under the common ownership of The Chubb Corporation. The Chubb Corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and, together with its subsidiaries, employs approximately 10,000 people throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. For more information regarding The Chubb Corporation, including a listing of the insurers in the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, visit www.chubb.com.