The WRAP Initiative and Working Group

The United Policyholders “WRAP” initiative aims to reduce wildfire risk and help restore affordable, available property insurance options for home and business owners who are being hit with premium spikes, non-renewals and no place to turn but the California Fair Plan.  Drought and extreme heat associated with climate change has increased wildfire risk in WUI (“Wildland Urban Interface”) and brush areas, and insurance companies are reacting by dropping long time customers and declining new business in those regions.  This has made it very hard for home and business owners outside urban areas to keep their assets affordably or fully insured and comply with lender requirements.

Reducing wildfire risk is critical to fixing this situation.  Improving conditions so structures are less likely to be damaged or destroyed in future wildfires will help restore insurer confidence and engagement in the California marketplace and save homes!

Giving property owners a financial incentive (cheaper, more accessible insurance) will help get “all hands on deck” improving conditions in WUI and brush areas.  UP is committed to helping establish incentives and rewards for those who invest time and money into risk reduction.

To accomplish this goal, WRAP founder Amy Bach identified the building blocks that need to be put in place and convened a WRAP Working Group in mid-2020 to expedite concensus around effective wildfire risk reduction and connect stakeholders with each other to build momentum across the state. The working group has been meeting regularly since that time.  It includes fire scientists, firefighters, members of Fire Safe Councils and Firewise communities, the Institute for Home and Business Safety, (IBHS), the CA Department of Insurance (CDI) and insurance professionals and UP staffers Emily Rogan, Joel Laucher, Annie Barbour and Valerie Brown.  

The WRAP group’s first accomplishment was in October 2021 when we issued a proposed set of standards and shared them with CDI and IBHS. Both CDI and IBHS subsequently issued largely identical standards

The WRAP group’s next accomplishment was helping CDI develop a set of regulations that require insurers to adjust their rates to reward risk reduced properties and communities.  Those regulations were filed with the CA Office of Administrative Law and are pending approvel as of September, 2022.

Now that standards and a set of regulations are in place, our next goals are:

  • Continuing to educate property owners on reducing risk and shopping for insurance.
  • Monitoring insurance company compliance with the new regulations.
  • Helping build out programs to provide financial and hands-on help with limbing trees, clearing brush, screening vents, boxing eaves, removing hazardous conditions and replacing class B roofs with class A roofs. 
  • Ongoing communication with insurance company representives aimed at increasing renewals and new policy sales.

Thanks to United Policyholders’ staff, volunteers and partner network and a grant from the Office of Emergency Services, we are well on our way toward meeting those goals!

List of Mitigated Dwelling Measures

The following list identifies effective means for protecting a dwelling from wildfire loss.  The list is not an exhaustive catalogue but is a focused compilation, created through United Policyholders “WRAP” initiative, of the key recommendations from an array of experts in residential wildfire risk reduction.

United Policyholders is encouraging all insurers to expand eligibility for coverage and to offer discounts in recognition of the reduced risk presented by homes that have incorporated these mitigation measures.

  • WRAP Mitigated Dwelling Measures

    Roof

    · The dwelling has a well-maintained Class A roof. Where gutters are present, the roof includes a metal drip edge.

    · For homes with metal or tile roofs, gaps greater than 1/8 inch between roofing and sheathing have been blocked to prevent debris accumulation and ember entry.

    Vents

    · Exterior vents (e.g., foundation, gable, under eave, and roof vents) incorporate a 1/8 inch metal mesh or are designed for flame and ember resistance (Wildland Flame and Ember Resistant (WUI) vents approved and listed by the California State Fire Marshall or WUI vents listed to ASTM E2886).

    Fences

    · Any wooden fences that attach to the dwelling structure shall incorporate only noncombustible materials (fencing or gating) in the last 5 feet before the attachment point(s) to the structure.

    Decks

    · All combustible materials (e.g., grass, shrubs, or stored materials) must be removed from underneath attached wooden decks or stairways and maintained at least 5 feet away from the decks’ or stairways’ perimeters.

    Other Attached Structures (arbors, pergolas, trellis)

    · Any other structure that is attached to the dwelling structure must be made of noncombustible materials.

    Buildings less than 25 feet from the Dwelling Structure or Attached Decking

    · If another structure (e.g., a dwelling, garage, barn, shed or commercial building) is within 25 feet of the dwelling, the dwelling’s exterior wall that faces the nearby structure meets a one-hour fire rating and includes noncombustible cladding.

    · Where windows face the nearby structure, the windows either include dual-paned glass with at least the exterior pane is tempered glass or the windows have deployable metal shutters.

    Defensible Space and Landscape

    · There is at least 6 inches of noncombustible clearance between the ground and the exterior siding of the dwelling.

    · Within the first 5 feet of any dwelling or attached decks, no combustible materials (e.g., woody plants, combustible mulch, stored items) are present around the building or deck(s)or below the deck(s).

    · For the landscape from 5-30 feet from structure (or property line if closer), the connectivity of vegetation leading to the dwelling structure has been eliminated. The lower branches of trees have been limbed up at least 6 feet above underlying or adjacent shrubs to eliminate fuel ladder connectivity. The landscaping is irrigated and maintained. Vegetation may be grouped and surrounded by areas of irrigated and mowed grass or hardscaping.

    · For the landscape from 30-100 feet from the structure (or property line if closer), there is separation between shrubs and trees, dead branches and leaves have been removed, lower branches of trees are pruned to curtail the spread of fire and to eliminate fuel ladders.

    · For dwellings on or adjacent to steep slopes (e.g., slopes greater than 35 degrees), landscape mitigation has been extended downslope and beyond the 100 feet perimeter, where possible, to reduce direct flame contact with or preheating of the dwelling or the underside of any decking.


    View as a PDF: WRAP Working Group Mitigated Dwelling Measures (October 2021)

  • IBHS Wildfire Prepared Home

    on June 22, IBHS officially launched Wildfire Prepared Home™, a wildfire mitigation designation program. Grounded in a decade of IBHS wildfire research, Wildfire Prepared Home allows homeowners to show they’ve taken the suite of science-based actions needed to meaningfully reduce their home’s wildfire risk, distinguishing it from partially or unmitigated properties.  

    www.wildfireprepared.org

    Wildfire Prepared 2022 Homeowner Guide

  • Comparison Chart: WRAP / IBHS / CA Wildfire Partnership

    Comparison of WRAP Initiative’s “Mitigated Dwelling Measures” with the Institute for Home and Business Safety’s “Wildfire Prepared Home” and California Interagency Wildfire Partnership “Safer from Wildfire” standards.

    (click to enlarge)

     

Partners/WRAP Working Group Participants

Wildfire Risk Reduction Partners and Working Group Participants (partial list)

Local and State Entities

Supervisor Rosemarie Smallcombe, Mariposa County

Town of Paradise, Recovery and Economic Development Department

Mike Peterson, California Department of Insurance

California Association of Realtors

Rural County Representatives of California

Firefighting Professionals 

Bill Tyler, Novato Fire District

Jordan Villagomez, Deputy Fire Marshall, Encinitas Fire

Monterey County Regional Fire District

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

Western Fire Chiefs Association

CalFire

Research Professionals 

Michael Newman, Institute for Home and Business Safety

Dan Gorham, Institute for Home and Business Safety

Dan Turner, Cal Poly WUI FIRE Institute

Marc Horney, Cal Poly

Yana Valachovic, University of California Cooperative Extension

Michele Steinberg, Wildfire Division Director, NFPA

Megan Fitzgerald-McGowan, Firewise USA® Program Manager, NFPA

FireSafe Councils and FireWise Community Advocates

California Fire Safe Council

Ventura Regional Fire Safe Council

COPE (Citizens Organized to Prepare for Emergencies)

Jim Webster, Wildfire Partners

Greater Auburn Fire Safe Council

Mary Schreiber, Fire Safe Council East Orange County Canyons

Mt. Veeder Fire Safe Council

Mariposa Fire Safe Council

Modoc Fire Safe Council

Oakland Fire Safe Council

Pacheco Valley Firewise Committee

Placerville Fire Safe Council

Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council

Silverado Fire Safe Council

SWRC Fire Safe Council

Topanga Canyon Fire Safe Council

Mitigation Products 

Steve Rahmn, Firebrand Safety Systems, Inc.

Brent Berkompas, Brandguard Vents

Wildfire Modeling Professionals 

Frederick Dupe Fortier, Zesty AI

Tammy Schwartz, Black Swan Analytics

If you are interested in joining the Wildfire Risk Reduction and Asset Protection Project Working Group, email: Emily.Rogan@uphelp.org

Consumer Help Publications and Resources
Reports, Bulletins and Survey Data

Reports and Bulletins

Data / Survey Results

Examples of Mitigation Standards, Programs and Rewards
Legislative and Regulatory Efforts
The WRAP Initiative and Working Group

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