Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fire Safety House Opens at the Oregon Garden

A home fire safety model grown to life-size: That is the bold, but simple concept behind The Oregon Garden Fire Safety House. This training tool to help homeowners in the wildland-urban interface live safely with wildfire has become reality, and it will be unveiled in a grand opening ceremony at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at The Oregon Garden in Silverton. The public is invited to attend.

Structural and wildland fire educators teamed up with construction and design experts to turn the 1970s-era legacy house on the grounds of the popular resort in Silverton into a self-guided tour of how a home can be made safe against threats from wildfire.

At first glance the structure resembles any well-kept suburban home. Attractive siding and roofing combine with well-maintained landscaping for visual appeal. Behind the pleasing aesthetics, though, this dwelling is built to endure the rigors of an encroaching wildfire. Roofing materials are designed not only to resist rain and snow but also burning embers cast through the air by a fire.

And the durable siding can endure heat from nearby flames as well as the more moderate temperature fluctuations of changing seasons. The species and arrangement of the landscaping plants discourage a creeping ground fire from ever reaching the structure, and also shield it from radiant heat generated by a flame front.

Eight interpretive kiosks illustrate how a home can be protected from wildfire by using fire-resistive building materials and replacing combustible vegetation with fire-resistive plants.

Cooperators on the Fire Safety House project include: The Oregon Garden Foundation, Moonstone Management, Inc., Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, and Oregon State University.

A $600,000 Assistance to Firefighters grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency funded the creation of interpretive fire education displays.