Stop The Wood-Roof Fire Hazard in Blackburne Creek - Give Families A Choice!

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The community of Blackburne Creek, in Edmonton, Alberta, is exposed to a significant and unique fire hazard. This hazard puts families and homes at extreme risk.

The key contributing factors are:

  1. The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) setting (In the case of Blackburne Creek, being in/adjacent to a forested ravine). WUI communities are highly susceptible to wildfires
  2. The community has only a single paved road in and out for its roughly 1500 people.
  3. Most homes in the community have highly combustible, wood roofing materials, many of them old and dried out.
  4. Owners being forced to replace their old wood roofs with only new wood roofs; wood being the only allowable roofing material due to a restrictive covenant caveat registered on most homes in the community.

Flammable roofing on WUI-exposed structures, especially wooden shingles, has been found in several studies to be the most susceptible building component to firebrand attack and ultimately the single most effective predictor of a home burning down in a fire event.

Additionally,  other major cities recognize wood roofing as “one of the major factors responsible for spreading fires not only to adjacent properties but structures considerable distances away” - Los Angeles Fire Department

The Blackburne Creek HOA Executive Board has been made aware of this significant hazard, and asked to investigate ways to address the issue. However, they have repeatedly chosen instead to ignore residents concerns, forcing families to continue to live with the significant risk described above. 

But The City of Edmonton Can Take Action - There are solutions & mechanisms available at the City level that can override the Restrictive Covenant, and provide Blackburne owners a choice for safer non-wood roofing options. This petition will be presented to our Local City Councillor, to show our community’s interest and concern regarding this serious hazard, and to ask the City to take action.

Please join us in this petition!

Below you will find real evidence with studies and references to back up these concerns, and show the solutions other cities have used:

More Articles & Studies:

A 2015 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sponsored study (Link Here)  concluded that:

A) "Flammable roofing on WUI-exposed structures, especially wooden shingles, has been found in several studies to be the most susceptible building component to firebrand attack and ultimately the single most effective predictor of a home burning down. "(page 47)

B)"In the 1990 Santa Barbara Paint Fire, 70% of houses with nonflammable roofs survived, while only 19% of houses with flammable roofs survived (Foote, 1994). Later, in an investigation of the 2007 Witch Creek and  Guejito fires, it was found that all houses with wood shake roofs were destroyed " (page 47)

C) "without  further research  indicating pressure-treated  wood’s ability  to resist ignition  by firebrands  our  opinion  is that they  should not  be used  on  vulnerable  buildings". (Page 51)

A+B+C above = Extreme Public Safety Hazard in Blackburne

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48 Cities in California Alone Have Banned Wood Roofs -There Are Many Others (SD Union Tribune Link  Here)
They have enacted bylaws & other measures, to address WUI risks and wood roof hazards. For certain we know some of these cities used these mechanisms to address the persistent problem of HOA’s failing to act reasonably in the face of strong evidence and searing lessons ( SD Union Tribune Link Here)

L.A. Fire Department “Wood Roof Guidelines” Are an Example of Measures Taken (Link Here) :

  1. “The City recognized that wood roofs were one of the major factors responsible for spreading fires not only to adjacent properties but structures considerable distances away.” - They create their own embers and firebrands!
  2. “The Los Angeles Municipal Code (91.1504.1) excludes wood shakes and shingles from the list of approved roofing materials that can be used in the City of Los Angeles. L.A. City Roofing Ordinance #165047 ... restricted wood shake & shingle roofs for new construction & replacement over 10% of the roof surface.”
  3. “The ordinance restricted all wood roofs & did not differentiate between untreated or fire retardant pressure treated wood shakes & shingles since they both support combustion.

Lessons From The Fort McMurray Fire Disaster 2017 Study - "Some Homes Survived" (Link Here)
This recent large Alberta study confirms the dangers of embers & firebrands in the air & note that less combustible materials (particularly roofs) are a key to survival & preventing spread to other buildings:

1) “Embers which, like snowflakes in a blizzard, respect no boundaries” (page 13)

2) "The majority of house ignitions in spreading wildfires (are) were caused by EMBERS ...not by radiant heat or direct ignition from flames”. (Page23)

3) "Overall, the pooled analysis of all homes, across all situations.....81% of the surviving homes were rated as being ‘FireSmart’" (=Low to Moderate rating) (Page 27) . (Link to FireSmart Canada assessment tool here)

The situation is clear. It is time for change.
If you agree, please sign our petition, and let your voice be heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Photo-Submitted Lisa Lyon/CBC story: here