Building a Fire-Resilient Home: Strategies for Protecting Against Wildfires

In the aftermath of natural disasters like wildfires, the process of rebuilding demands careful consideration of structural systems and home designs to enhance resilience. In an interview with Structural Systems Hawaii, we learned insights into safeguarding homes against the threat of wildfires.

Structural Systems for Rebuilding Lahaina:

Jonny Santo Tomas, Senior Estimator at Structural Systems Inc., shed light on the importance of pre-construction piles for both commercial and residential applications. Focusing on Lahaina’s unique challenges, he emphasized the need for addressing soil and foundation problems. The utilization of preconstruction piles, particularly auger cast piles, proves instrumental in supporting structures and preventing future settlement. This approach, involving drill rigs and strategic placement, offers a robust solution applicable to various building types, from residential to commercial and mixed-use developments.

Rebuilding Homes for Wildfire Protection:

Lance Luke, Construction Engineer at Construction Management Inspection and Member of the National Fire Protection, shared insights on rebuilding homes to withstand wildfires, highlights key factors in design and construction. Emphasizing the use of fire-resistant materials, he recommends poured concrete, CMU block tiles, steel, or metal for the main structure. Exterior walls can be safeguarded with stucco or fiber-cementitious planks, while fire-resistant roofing materials like metal, slate, or concrete contribute to overall protection. Windows featuring double-pane glass add an extra layer of defense. Inside the home, the incorporation of fire-rated drywall and a double-wall structure enhances safety, while an ideal addition is a fire sprinkler system.

Beyond the structure, Lance stresses the importance of creating a defensible space in the yard. This involves removing vegetation within 5 feet of the home and clearing fallen leaves and branches within 5-30 feet. The installation and maintenance of a sprinkler system further contribute to preventing vegetation from drying out, creating an additional line of defense against wildfires.

For more on protecting your home against natural disasters, visit