Home safety institute shows off what can happen in an ember fire - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Home safety institute shows off what can happen in an ember fire

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The Institute for Business and Home Safety fired up the disaster lab on Tuesday to demonstrate the effects of ember storms that occur during a forest fire.

A shower of flaming embers attacked a model home at the lab much like they would in a real forest fire.

"Today we had a pretty good example of what happens when you use the wrong decking material and the vulnerabilities that come with simple maintenance techniques," said Julie Rochman, president of the IBHS.

Rochman has been torturing homes since 2010. Firing water, wind, hail and fire at model homes.

Tuesday, Gov. Nikki Haley got her first look at the facility, along with members of Congress and representatives from major insurance companies. Haley hopes it will help regulators and builders get on the same page.

"What we want to do is find that balance of safety with the balance of making sure we're allowing the market to work, that's always been a question, this allows for proof," said Haley.

"It's great to have them all here in the same room at the same time, unless every stakeholder is thinking about the importance of resilience, it won't happen," said Rochman.

The burn was a demonstration, but nevertheless taught some lessons.

"Look for the gutters that haven't been cleaned out, look for the highly combustible materials within the first 5 feet of your house and remove those vulnerabilities," said Rochman.

Use non-combustible materials, and don't store your gas can under your deck. Believe it or not, it's more common than you think.

Firefighters say if your home can survive the first 30 minutes of an ember attack, it'll likely survive the fire.

The rubber has really already met the road at the IBHS research center. In 2015, the new International Residential Code will be released, and it will contain three changes that were results of research conducted at the disaster lab.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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