Having spent some time in our 'urban burn zones', right now I think #1 is roof code. We get a lot more snow here locally due to orographics (there's a reason for all of these trees out on the plains here) and so we already probably have code standards for the weight and it is just the materials. My roof is asphalt shingle, the house is stucco, I wish I had a metal roof.
When you look at Mountain Shadows, which lost 346 homes when the Waldo Canyon fire blew out of Queens Canyon above it, the first thing you'd note is that Mountain Shadows isn't in the forest and has relatively few trees - only a few streets with luxury homes really bordered the forest itself and most of the area isn't WUI at all (and therefore was not pre-evacuated). But it had a lot of cedar shake roofing in the older less expensive areas where the houses were built with wood siding and wood roofing, and some of those little sub-divisions burned more or less entirely because CO climate will dry that stuff into firestarter in a drought.
Now, just north of Mountain Shadows is Peregrine, which in the upper reaches is all semi-luxury homes, and they didn't lose a single home. Some of that of course may have been a bit of extra time for response, but fire came down to the street. You could see deciduous trees on the curb where the 2/3 facing the fire was heat browned and the 1/3 facing the street was green, and the house is standing (deck furniture, grills with their propane bombs attached, etc. in the front yard courtesy of the firefighters). But stucco with a tile roof. Probably there was melted wiring, major smoke damage, etc. and the remediation trucks were lined up house after house, but this is WUI and much closer than a lot of what burned en masse in Mountain Shadows.
I think this was posted before (maybe by me) and is from the Black Forest. If the fire had been crowning here this house probably would have been in trouble, but if that border had been rock instead of mulch the fire probably just blows around. Pretty instructive on tree trimming, elimination of ladder fuels, and defensible space materials (note the asphalt shingle roof at the end) while still having trees close to the house. It is heavily clearing trees that will meet most resistance, both for cost and that being the point of living there.https://vimeo.com/68342641Edited by NayBreak - 8/30/13 at 11:55am