Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Code (R327.4)The City of Ashland Building Safety Division, in coordination with Ashland Fire & Rescue and the Wildfire Safety Commission, is considering the adoption of ORSC Section R327.4, which implements best practices for building ignition-resistant homes within the City of Ashland.
In 2018, the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) engaged stakeholders from the fire service, local government, and homebuilders to develop wildfire mitigation code standards that have a consistent and predictable application. The City of Ashland participated in this process at the state level and in January 2019, BCD amended Oregon Residential Specialty Code section R327 (Wildfire Hazard Mitigation) and made it available for local adoption.
The City of Ashland has a comprehensive approach to addressing the threat and potential consequences of wildfire, including public education, a city-wide wildfire hazard zone designation, comprehensive vegetation/fuels management, and individual neighborhood FireWise certifications. The final piece of the City’s Fire Adapted Strategy is to adopt Wildfire Mitigation Building Code R327.4 as permitted by the State of Oregon.
The intent of R327.4 is to provide minimum standards that reduce or eliminate ignition potential of new homes built within wildfire hazard zones. This is accomplished using exterior products that resist ignition and protect specific vulnerable areas including rain gutters, roofing, ventilation, exterior walls, and eaves from ember ignition threat.
The 2020 Almeda Fire caused significant destruction to the Rogue Valley. Building and fire departments have a responsibility to their communities to ensure that new and existing structures in wildfire hazard areas are protected against wildfires. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through adoption and enforcement of building codes and standards that aim to reduce the potential ignition of homes through the use of ignition-resistant building materials, screens to prevent embers from penetrating into eaves and under foundations, and creating and maintaining defensible space around structures within the community. The City of Medford recently embraced a similar effort and implemented R327.4 within their jurisdiction in October 2019.