Fire Resistant Storm Water Systems Protect People and Property During Wildfires
July 5, 2023

Categories | Concrete Pipe & Precast

Fire Resistant Storm Water Systems Protect People and Property During Wildfires

Each year, fire season puts more Americans at risk. The past few decades have seen a consistent pattern of longer wildfire seasons, more frequent fires, and fires that burn larger areas, according to the EPA. Furthermore, according to an analysis by the First Street Foundation, one in six Americans live in an area of significant wildfire risk, with wildfire damage totaling billions of dollars annually.

Federal Agencies Invest in Fire Resistant Infrastructure

To address the growing cost of the federal response to natural disasters, Congress passed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act in 2018. The new legislation highlights the need for strong, resilient evacuation routes and directs funding toward feasible, cost effective projects that make communities more resilient against future wildfire risk.

Congress identified several performance standards for evacuation routes, including the ability to withstand tensile and compressive stresses, flammability, and hydrostatic forces. Reinforced concrete pipe manufactured by County Materials meets these performance standards.

Reinforced concrete pipe is a strong and durable material that can withstand high temperatures. Unlike other materials used for storm water management, concrete pipe is inherently fire resistant. Its rigid structure offers greater durability and strength than alternative materials like plastic and metal culverts, which have been known to collapse during wildfire events such as the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

Fire Resistant Storm Water Systems Protect Evacuation Routes

Storm water systems play a critical role in the response to a wildfire. Storm water systems help keep roadways clear of water washing down from extinguishing efforts and prevent roadways from collapsing due to erosion. However, the systems themselves can become a hazard if they are constructed with flammable materials or materials that will melt if wind-blown embers ignite a fire inside the culvert.

To protect evacuation routes, many communities are replacing flammable storm water systems with reinforced concrete pipe to ensure the infrastructure remains structurally intact during wildfires.

Resilient Infrastructure Speeds Recovery

 When communities recover from wildfires, they must restore and improve public infrastructure. This includes replacing sewer pipes and culverts that did not withstand the destructive forces of the fire.

County Materials’ enhanced production capabilities and responsive delivery fleets enable short lead times for concrete pipe.

Due to the loss of vegetation, burned areas are more susceptible to flooding and debris flows, according to the California Water Science Center. Even modest rainstorms can produce dangerous flash floods, putting recovery efforts at risk until reliable infrastructure is in place.

Reinforced concrete pipe installed before a disaster speeds recovery and may prevent further damage as it provides erosion protection during extinguishing efforts and during post-fire floods.

The use of reinforced concrete pipe offers communities many benefits when it comes to planning for and recovering from wildfires