(Photo Credit: Forbes)
More than 1,600 homes and businesses in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were destroyed and at least three people were killed in the Woolsey fire in 2018. The Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County was deemed the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018, destroying over 14,000 homes and causing at least 85 civilian fatalities. The 2017 Northern California wildfires destroyed 8,900 structures and killed at least 44 people. The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that rocked Southern California in 2019 caused no fatalities, but Governor Gavin Newsom estimated more than $100 million in economic damages.
One common factor in these disasters and the destruction they caused is the predominant use of wood in construction. In the past few decades, there has been a gradual move away from wood in favor of engineered products. In an article from Forbes, Resilient Construction: Building Structures That Withstand Nature’s Fury, Nikhil Choudhary, CEO at Zenith Engineers Inc, provides information on alternative materials that can be used in place of wood to offer far more disaster resistance and efficiency in construction – including the use of cold-formed steel (CFS) framing.
Choudhary notes that CFS provides a safe, noncombustible framing system that is strong enough to achieve the desired overall building height. Steel will not contribute to the spread or intensity of a fire; noncombustible structures have a better loss history than wood-framing members.
Additionally, due to its consistent chemistry, steel behaves in a highly predictable manner when subjected to high wind and seismic forces.