In an old investigation that was published way back in 1958, they found that one of the main places where destructive fires start was at the roof.
In reading it, you find that these homes had insulation made of very flammable materials, like wood wool. Roof coverings were typically fibreglass and bitumen shingles, which did more to feed the fire than stop it. Add to that the fact that a lot more people were smokers back in the ‘50s and you’ve got a recipe for disaster!
These days, house fires that originate in or on a roof are usually caused by sparks that land on a roof and ignite debris or the shingles themselves. Sparks don’t just come from wildfires. Even living in a city, sparks from backyard bonfires, fireworks, or someone’s out-of-control barbeque can cause a fire.
These days, builders, building supply companies and government building code makers use, make, and regulate safer roofing products to minimize the risk of your house catching fire from a stray spark.
What Kinds of Roofing Materials are the Most Fire Resistant?
Fire resistance rating was created by the National Roofing Contractor’s Association and these ratings are listed in the technical specifications or product brochure of all roofing materials, from insulation to vapour barriers to shingles.
With any type of roofing material in Edmonton, whether it’s recycled rubber, architectural shingles, or slate or clay tiles, you need to get something with at least an A, B, or C fire rating. A is the most fire-resistant and C is the least. (Some products call this rating an ASTM E108 rating.)
Here’s how some of the typical roofing materials stand up to fire:
Untreated Wood Shakes
Untreated wood shake roofs are rare in Edmonton, but they’re not totally unheard of. They give homes a unique look, but if people knew how flammable they were, they might not want to use them. Untreated wood shakes are basically tinder, so just avoid them.
Treated wood shakes can potentially have an A rating if they have been soaked (or ‘’treated’’) in fire retardant, so if that’s the look you love, you don’t need to be too worried about their fire resistance.
Asphalt shingles cover about 90% of the homes in the Edmonton area, and if you have them on your home, you’ll be happy to know that they can provide excellent protection from fire. Not all shingles are the same though, so make sure to check the specifications or manufacturer’s brochure to see what kind of fire rating they have. Again, A is the most fire-resistant and C is the least.
Metal Roofing Material
Metal roofing material is another broad term. There are different kinds of metals used for roofs, like copper and steel, but metal tile or sheets won’t catch fire. When installed with a fire-resistant underlayment, these types of roofs are practically fireproof.
Clay Tile Roofing Material
Less common than asphalt shingles or metal roofing, clay tiles are another option for covering your roof that provide great protection from fire. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that clay tiles need to be sealed properly to prevent sparks from penetrating your roof.
To see what roofing products we use on residential roofs, check out our Residential Roofing page.
More Fire Prevention tips for your Roof
Make sure your roof is clean and there is nothing on it that can catch fire. This includes things like tree branches, dry leaves, and tree needles.
Ensure that your chimney has a spark arrestor screen so that embers don’t escape and ignite your roof, house, or yard.
Make sure that your eavestroughs and vents are also clear of debris and that they have screens so that flying embers can’t enter through them.
For more homeowners’ tips on fire prevention, check out the FireSmart Canada page.
Call Crest Roofing for All Your Roofing Needs
If you’re thinking about getting your roof redone, or if you’re building a new home, it’s a good idea to know how well your roofing materials will protect you against a fire. If you have any other questions or comments about roofing fire safety, feel free to ask us.
And if you’re looking for Red Seal Certified roofing professionals, we can help you with your roof repairs or re-roofing job. Give us a call at (780) 466-1601 for a free quote, or send us a message via our contact page.