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Luxury Homes: Are New Builds a Fire Hazard?

There is a building boom going on in Salt Lake City right now. Everything from single-family dwellings to large apartment buildings are popping up all over the greater Salt Lake City region. Even luxury home builders are not having trouble finding buyers. Most people might not think twice about it from a fire hazard perspective, but it appears as though firefighters may be concerned.

According to KUTV News, there is genuine concern over newer homes and how quickly they burn. Firefighters say that new homes are at greater risk as evidenced by the amount of time people have to escape a structure fire. Thirty years ago it was generally accepted that you had about 17 minutes to escape a burning house. That’s down to just 4 minutes today.

It’s important to note that this isn’t isolated to Salt Lake City. Wherever new homes are being built – from New York to Los Angeles and everywhere in between – firefighters say that the synthetic materials being used to build them are more susceptible to fire.

Burning Faster and Hotter

KUTV explained in a recent report that the synthetic materials found in new homes burn faster and hotter than the natural materials older homes were built with. But that’s not all. Those same synthetic materials are used to create furnishings and appliances. They are equally problematic. Everything just burns more easily than it did in the past.

As for luxury homes, there tends to be more concern there as well. Luxury homes are filled with lots of bells and whistles that lesser priced homes do not have. There is more furniture, more electronic gadgets, more window treatments and bed linens, and on and on. It just adds up to more fuel to feed a hungry fire.

CityHome Collective, a well-known real estate firm based in Salt Lake City, says the city’s inventory of houses tends to be newer than in many other areas. The greater Salt Lake City area experienced a population decline in the three decades between 1970 and 2000. Since then, population growth has been quite significant. More houses have been built in the last 20 years than the previous three decades.

Still No Need to Panic

Firefighters say there is no need to panic over the potential of new homes to burn faster. Instead, they say implementing standard fire safety procedures will protect families in the event of a house fire. For example, they recommend sleeping with the bedroom door closed in order to slow down the progress of an existing fire.

They recommend keeping fire extinguishers in the home and having them inspected annually. Installing a fire sprinkler system is also good idea.

In terms of what to do in the event of a fire, it is all about planning. Families should work out escape plans that they practice on a regular basis. Each person in the home should know of at least two alternate routes of escape in the event the home’s primary means of egress is blocked.

Windows should be inspected several times a year to make sure they do not stick. If a homeowner should paint, great care should be taken not to paint the windows closed. Windows that have screens should be inspected to ensure the screens can be removed quickly and without much effort.

Finally, homes should be equipped with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke alarms should be checked twice annually to ensure they are in good working condition. Firefighters recommend changing batteries at the same time clocks are switched forward and back for daylight saving time.

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