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Garden structure is critical for building survival in northern forest fires – An analysis using large Swedish wildfires
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Safety and Transport, Fire and Safety.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5420-164x
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Safety and Transport, Fire and Safety.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8670-062x
SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
2023 (English)In: Safety Science, ISSN 0925-7535, E-ISSN 1879-1042, Vol. 157, article id 105928Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite increasing concern over wildfires in Fennoscandia, there are essentially no studies on the survivability of buildings within the wildland-urban interface of this region. We make use of four recent large-scale fires in Sweden to elucidate which factors are important for survival, using multiple logistic regression analysis of data collected at the sites. We obtained data on 187 buildings within the fire perimeters, nearly all with wood paneling and tile- or sheet metal roofing. 35 % of the buildings were lost or badly damaged. Results indicate that most buildings were approached by relatively low-intensity fire and that ignition primarily occurred through direct flame contact. The most important factor for survivability was the presence of a maintained lawn. The second most important was that no flammable material was present close to the building façade. Further, fire intensity often decreased close to buildings due to a larger portion of deciduous trees around gardens than in the surrounding forest. These factors were more important than specific features of the building itself, reflecting that the majority of buildings have combustible wooden façades. Our results suggest that the greatest potential for increasing building safety in the Swedish WUI is to keep the area immediately surrounding the building (∼5 m) free from tree litter and other flammable material. Also, since fire intensities are generally low, buildings can in most cases be defended with simple tools without compromising personal safety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier B.V. , 2023. Vol. 157, article id 105928
Keywords [en]
Boreal, Building loss, Scandinavia, Wildfire, Wildland-urban interface, Buildings, Fire hazards, Flammability, Regression analysis, Sheet metal, Fennoscandia, Fire intensity, Forest fires, Northern forests, Swedishs, Wildland urban interface, Fires, article, deciduous plant, flame, forest, forest fire, land use, nonhuman
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-60252DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2022.105928Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85138761345OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-60252DiVA, id: diva2:1702277
Note

Funding details: European Commission, EC, 826522; Funding details: Research Executive Agency, REA, 101003890; Funding text 1: This work was funded by the European Commission jointly by DG ECHO, project WUIVIEW (grant agreement number 826522 ) and REA project FirEUrisk (grant agreement number 101003890 ). Contributions of photographic material from various sources are gratefully acknowledged. A special thanks go to Schroeder and Wennerlund who performed a preliminary study on the Swedish WUI in their BSc thesis in 2016.

Available from: 2022-10-10 Created: 2022-10-10 Last updated: 2023-05-23Bibliographically approved

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Vermina Lundström, FridaSjöström, Johan

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