The frequency of house fires in the United States has constantly declined over the years. However, the danger from these fires is more serious than ever. Many homeowners would be surprised to learn the increased danger is due to the design, construction, and furnishings of modern-day homes.
Contemporary homes are constructed in line with current fire codes and possess a number of fire safety features. However, they burn a lot faster than older homes. The violence of today’s house fires can be blamed on modern construction materials, furnishings in the home, and home layouts.
The days of traditional wood and brick construction are long gone. Homes today are built using engineered materials that offer significant advantages over the building materials of yesterday. They are lightweight, durable, eco-friendly, cheaper, and convenient. However, the composition of these materials and their response to heat presents a number of challenges regarding fire safety.
Plywood, strand board, and lumber that is engineered is made from sawdust and wood chips. A compression process that involves wax and formaldehyde-based resins are used on the wooden strands to manufacture the building materials.
The materials that are produced by this product are more flammable than traditional materials used for home construction. The faster burning times increase the amount of fire damage and can cause the structure to quickly destabilize. A home built with legacy materials will take at least twenty minutes to collapse as a result of a fire. A newer home can collapse in less than half this time. Additionally, wall linings in newly constructed homes are thinner than homes built in the past. This makes them more susceptible to penetration by fire.
Materials are not the only culprit. The materials used in modern-day furniture and the open floor plans that are popular today also contribute to increased fire damage.
Open Floor Plans
Open space layouts are all the rave with homeowners and designers. However, these layouts increase the home’s vulnerability to fire.
When a fire is experienced in a home, walls and doors can help contain the fire in the room in which it started. These barriers can also decrease the smoke damage done to the property. Open layouts minimize the number of walls that separate rooms and eliminates the barriers that can help to control the spread of the fire.
Another problem caused by open-spaced layouts is the volume of air available for the fire to use as fuel. Contemporary open floor plans provide the space and oxygen to cause a small fire to become a devastating event.
Energy-efficient windows are used in modern homes to provide insulation and reduce energy costs. However, the heat from a fire will cause the frames and sashes of the windows to melt. The glass from the window can break and the air that rushes in from the outside causes combustible materials inside the room to reach their point of auto-ignition.
Despite the dangers mentioned above, the biggest threat from a fire is caused by synthetic materials with which modern-day furniture is made.
There was a time when furniture was constructed with solid wood, cotton was stuffed in upholstery, and then leather, silk, or wool was used as a cover. Natural fabrics were also used for drapes and carpets.
Today, composites are used for wood frames and padding consists of polyurethane foam. Carpets today are also made with synthetic blends. This all serves to make the furnishings in many homes burn quicker than would have been the norm for furniture in the past.
A Few Things To Remember
Installing fire sprinklers in key areas in the home is probably the most efficient fire prevention method available to homeowners. A good sprinkler system can help control a fire until firefighters are on the scene. This can save lives and prevent severe fire damage to the home.
There are times when the best efforts at safety will be in vain. If your home is subjected to a house fire, you should contact a company that specializes in fire restoration. An expert will know the steps to take to prevent further damage by smoke and soot from the fire. A fire restoration expert will salvage all your property that can be saved and restore your home to as close to its original condition as possible.