Wildfires become catastrophes when they enter our communities and a built environment conflagration unfolds. As our built environment continues to push into areas that were wildlands with fire as vital part of their ecosystems, an estimated 45 million residential buildings are now in high-risk wildfire areas across the United States. This study examines the wildfire readiness across the Western United States at both the state and county level.

A few key takeaways: 

  • Few states and counties with the greatest risk of wildfire disasters are using sound regulatory approaches backed up by consistent enforcement. Outside of California and Utah, there are no enforced, statewide codes addressing wildfire exposures to residential and commercial property; code use and enforcement at the local level remains limited.
  • The separation of wildfire safety elements from traditional building codes and the absence of clear guidance on how such elements can be integrated into building codes has resulted in limited use by state and local officials.
  • A few local jurisdictions have taken proactive approaches across a range of wildfire safety concerns, but they stand in sharp counterpoint to the majority of counties and local communities that largely fail to address wildfire risks to life and property in a comprehensive manner.

Read the full report for more!