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Austin Implements Stricter Codes for Wildfire Protection

Codes + Standards

Austin Implements Stricter Codes for Wildfire Protection

October 8, 2020
Capitol building in Austin, Texas
Photo: Christopher Boswell

Austin, Texas, became the first major city in the state to enact a stricter code for wildfire protection. While the city was prepared to respond to potential wildfires, an internal audit suggested the city could do more—so the city did. The internal auditor thought the city should push for fire-resistant materials on new construction and renovated buildings that are near fire-prone brush and vegetation, according to Green Builder Media.This new code is called the Wildland-Urban Interface code and it took the city nearly four years to finally enact after years of planning and preparation. 

According to Tara Lukasik of the ICC, the new WUI code requires that all new homes and businesses constructed near wildland areas be built with special ignition-resistant construction materials to protect them from burning embers. Embers often set structures ablaze in a wildfire when they fall on wooden roofs, blow in through vents, or lodge under boards.

The code also requires the safe storage of combustible materials like liquefied petroleum gas. Also, properties that are particularly vulnerable would be required to participate in diligent vegetation management. These include structures that are: 

Difficult to reach. 
Don’t have a water supply.
Have an overgrowth of heavy fuels.
Are located on steep slopes.
Located adjacent to a 40-acre or larger wildland area

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