Funds Available to Upgrade Homes for Fire Safety

A Rough Estimate of Funds Available to Upgrade Homes for Fire Safety

We make a rough estimate of funds that could be available for all or to new homes, if they could avoid all large-project home fires.

So far, the repetitive Diablo winds near the Bay Area, have destroyed almost 6,000 structure so far. The weekend could have further winds. We have to give an average value of rebuilding a burned house. Since the fire was so complete, the water, electric, and gas infrastructure also have to be rebuilt, raising the costs. Many of the houses are also two story and site filling houses. So we call the average $500,000 to start. For our rough estimate, we do not need a precise number.

Let us hope no more serious fires occur, so we take a yearly fire cost of 6,000 structures time a half a million per house to give a $3 billion cost per year.

For simple calculation we take the California population as 39 million, and use an average of 3 persons per household, to get 13 million households. The question is, how much fire prevention cost can we distribute per household, if it could rather completely stop fires, and save the $3 billion fire loss a year to break even. So we divide $3 billion by 13 million to get $231, or we could round off to $200 per household. This is not a lot. But wait, the $3 billion is per year. So you can invest $200 per household per year to match it. If you think that a household or business building has a 50 year lifetime, then the $200 for 50 years gives $10,000 per $500,000 house to spend on fireproofing, and still break even. That is only 2% of the price of the house.

Besides the cost balance, there is also the loss of life, and the several year process of rebuilding, temporary housing, perhaps school dislocation for kids, and replacement of all furniture and household appliances and devices.

Over 50 years, the 6,000 houses lost per year amounts to 300,000 houses lost out of 13 million, or 2.3%,

This is just a rough estimate. We look to actuarials at insurance companies to provide better values. We also look to them to produce pressure to upgrade houses for fire safety.


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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