Fire Factor FAQ

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Frequently asked questions about wildfire risk assessments. 

What is Fire Factor?

Fire Factor is the first-of-its-kind, comprehensive property-level wildfire risk assessment in the form of a risk score from 1 (minimal risk) to 10 (extreme risk), integrated into several real estate sites and developed by First Street Foundation®, a nonprofit research and technology group. 

Fire Factor features comprehensive current and potential future wildfire risk data at the property level. The First Street Foundation’s Wildfire Model is based on the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) LANDFIRE fuels dataset, augmented with additional data sources and methodologies to facilitate a high resolution and future-facing product. The model was developed in partnership with top climate scientists and modelers from leading organizations, including wildfire modeling and environmental think tank Spatial Informatics Group, fire modeling and investigations company Reax Engineering, environmental research and analytics firm Eagle Rock Analytics, and ecological modeling company Apex Resource Management Solutions. 

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In addition to current risk, the model provides an analysis of how various climate factors will impact a property's wildfire risk over the next 30 years, so property owners have better insights into their home’s current and future risk for wildfire.

How accurate is Fire Factor?

First Street Foundation’s Wildfire Model helps make wildfire risk more accessible and transparent so homeowners, sellers, buyers, and real estate professionals can more easily understand and mitigate any potential wildfire risks. Similar to the ongoing enhancements to Fire Factor, First Street Foundation intends to work with the entire community to further refine, update, and adapt its wildfire model, to continue to make the data more accurate with new and better information.

If a wildfire risk score looks high or low to you, this is a great signal to reach out to a local expert to learn more, including strategies for how best to protect a home in any high-risk areas.  You can also find some wildfire solutions on Risk Factor.

What is the difference between wildfirerisk.org and Fire Factor?

Government-driven national wildfire risk data is available at www.wildfirerisk.org from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service. However, the site was designed for community leaders, and not consumers, and is intended to compare risk nationally or between states/counties/communities rather than neighborhoods or specific addresses. USDA data also doesn’t adjust risk based on more recent fires or changing environmental conditions; their analysis considers only the current risk to homes, exposure type, wildfire likelihood, and vulnerable populations and is strictly based on observed wildfires prior to 2014. However, 45% of the wildfire damage that’s occurred since 1980 has happened in the last three years, so its risk data may be underestimated. 

First Street Foundation’s Wildfire Model is based on the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) LANDFIRE fuels dataset and augmented with additional data sources and methodologies and developed in partnership with top climate scientists and modelers from leading organizations. It aims to fill USDA’s wildfire data gaps with risk breakdowns at the individual property and adjusted to account for recent fires. The First Street Foundation Wildfire Model also provides an analysis of how various climate factors may impact a property's wildfire potential future risk of fire over the next 30 years.

Are community fire-prevention measures included in risk assessments?

The First Street Foundation Wildfire Model captures thousands of up-to-date community fire-prevention measures that occurred in the last 10 years, such as prescribed burns, thinning, fire breaks, and other forest management practices, which helps reduce the fuel in these areas, and is continually adding more as more preventative measures are taken.

How often are Fire Factor scores updated? 

We are committed to the accuracy of our data and will continue to grow, adapt, and change our Wildfire Model as we learn new and better information. As such, improvements to our Wildfire Model are included in quarterly data updates. Sign up for our newsletter to learn about updates as they become available by clicking or tapping here.

Where can I find the technical methodology for the Wildfire Model?

You can find the full detailed methodology here. There is also a simplified version of the methodology here.

What is the difference between my property’s Fire Factor and its vulnerability?

A property’s vulnerability to wildfires is different from it’s Fire Factor. A property’s Fire Factor is based on the probability of burning or exposure to embers. While a property’s vulnerability refers to the amount of structural damage the home could sustain in the event of a wildfire. A property’s vulnerability is based on the home’s specific building characteristics. A home’s specific building characteristics reflect its ability to survive a wildfire, such as the size of the structure, slope of the property, materials, and building value

Building characteristics have different likelihoods of ignition at different flame heights. For example a property whose roof is made of metal may be less likely to ignite if it is in a fire with shorter flame lengths. Metal roofing is non-combustible and offers Class A protection. 

While the parcel a home sits on may have a high likelihood of burning, the physical structure of the home may be less vulnerable and therefore more likely to survive a wildfire if it has a metal, non-combustible roof, which increases the structure’s ability to prevent ember or flame penetration to the home.  

Can I get access to the data used in the Wildfire Model?

Data is available at the property level and at aggregated geographies. Please visit our data page access page for more information on these options. Additionally, you can access additional “locked” risk information, claim your home, and purchase a property report by signing up for Risk Factor Pro.

Where can I find information about fire insurance? 

One way to offset the cost of wildfire damage is to invest in fire insurance, which can help reduce your financial risk and allow you to recover more quickly after a fire. Most homeowners insurance typically includes fire coverage but in some areas, this will need to be purchased separately. Compare fire insurance quotes at Hippo.

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Learn more

How is my Fire Factor calculated?

Commonly used vocabulary on Fire Factor

 

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