The wildfires that have plagued California for years are getting worse, prompting the state's government to pass stricter laws regarding fire safety. California is passing laws that do things like require home sellers to disclose to buyers the wildfire risk to the home, and proposed bills focus on retrofitting structures for fire safety and more. While the laws, for now, tend to focus on residential properties and are limited to properties within California, residents and businesses in other states would do well to pay attention and possibly start adhering to some of the structural regulations to increase their own safety.
Building owners should work with fire engineering consultants to ensure issues like defensible space are more than adequate.
1. What Affects Residential Property Eventually Affects Commercial Buildings
Commercial buildings may be less likely to be surrounded by old trees and gardens—a parking lot with the occasional shrub or small tree is more likely in many places—but those materials still provide fuel if a fire breaks out. People wanting to buy commercial buildings may want to have a fire safety engineer evaluate the area for how easy or hard it might be to defend the building against fire and research the fire history of that part of the city. Doing this now not only helps you find properties that are in less burn-prone areas but also helps you get ahead of any law changes because what affects residential properties eventually affects commercial properties.
2. California Is Leading the Way But Other States Should Pay Attention
While California is doing a lot to pass fire safety laws, other states may have to do the same, too. California may be serving as a model for other states. Wildfires can hit anywhere, no matter what the environment is normally like; even typically humid regions like eastern Tennessee, east-central Texas, and the Florida Everglades have had droughts that led to destructive fires. Either buy properties or retrofit existing properties to meet the toughest standards that you can find (and that you can afford) because, if your state enacts laws similar to California's, you'll be ahead of the game.
Fire protection engineers can help you retrofit properties and evaluate properties you hope to buy, and they can help you ensure that your properties have as many fire safety features as is possible. Because wildfires are becoming more intense and occurring more frequently, you can't take chances.