News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Grants available to ‘harden’ homes from fire

Santiam Canyon residents who are working to rebuild in the Wildland Urban Interface in high or extreme fire risk areas, will have to make some changes.

New wildfire risk maps have just been released by the state that define WUI boundaries and the fire risk for every Oregon property. The work was required by Senate Bill 762, passed by the 2021 Legislature. The wildfire preparedness and resiliency bill also requires action by some property owners whose businesses  or homes were lost or damaged in the wildfires to help mitigate the fire risk through the adoption of defensible space and home-hardening building approaches.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal is working on defensible space requirements, which are scheduled to be adopted in December. 

No date has been set for when the codes will take effect. In addition, the state’s Building Codes Division will adopt home-hardening rules that are scheduled for adoption in October and to take effect in April 2023.

Property owners in the high and extreme risk classes will receive letters about their property, and whether they are subject to the new defensible space and home hardening codes. The ODF is planning information sessions to address questions on the risk map, its functions and purpose. Oregonians will be advised to appeal their risk class.

The Building Codes Division also is working with the 8 counties that suffered serious fire damage in 2020 on a grant program to help pay for the home-hardening work. The Santiam Canyon counties of Marion and Linn are participating in the program, which is offering up to $6,000 of assistance from a total pool of $25 million.

Here is a look at the fire-hardening improvements and the grants associated with them:

• Roofing: Must be Class B (effective against moderate exposure) or Class A (effective against severe exposure), $2,200

• External wall covering: Must be one of the following – noncombustible, ignition-resistant, heavy timber assembly or log wall assembly, $1,750

• Ventilation: Vents designed to resist embers and flames or an unvented attic assembly, $350

• Overhangs, cantilevers & projections: Must include either noncombustible material, ignition-resistant material, a 1-hour wall assembly or 1 layer of ⅝-inch Type X exterior gypsum sheathing or equivalent, $400

• Porches, balconies & decks: Must be constructed from either noncombustible material, ignition-resistant material, fire-retardant treated wood or materials meeting ASTM E2632, $550

• Windows & skylights: Must Be either tempered glass or rated for 20 minutes of fire resistance, $550

• Skirting (manufactured homes only): Material must be either noncombustible or ignition resistant, $500

• Accessory structures: Apply roofing and exterior wall treatments noted above, $500 per structure, $1,000 maximum.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

To learn about the fire-hardening grant program and to apply, visit https://www.oregon.gov/bcd/Pages/firehardening.aspx. Grants are available for eligible homeowners in Marion and Linn counties. Applicants can receive grants through their county building department after completing one or more qualifying improvements.

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