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In hopes that many of you have read the article from yesterday I wanted to touch upon the subject again with an independent opinion. Yes, I said it, an independent point of view. Now if you haven’t read the first piece click here first 
because the perspective in that article is one that I find let’s say unintelligent, and ignorant in some ways. While we respect and are thankful for firefighters who risk their lives daily I feel that it is quite possible firefighters have either not trained adequately or given the proper education on metal roofs. Now this isn’t meant to point fingers but as with everything in life we tend to educate ourselves more in solving new problems. With that being said it is quite possible that the metal industry needs to organize a discussion or an education session with firefighters. It seems that within the article the firefighting community recognizes the value of a metal roof over an asphalt or shingle roof. They do however fail to recognize the other benefits of metal roofs. The article discusses how metal roofs require a special tool to cut it open during a fire and how this particular group of volunteers had to wait for the firefighters to arrive with the saw. As soon as I read that it was quite obvious that a red flag was raised in terms of how prepared the firefighters might be. I’m not saying that the volunteer firefighters should have these tools ready but wouldn’t it be smart to be prepared for the likelihood of a metal roof? Furthermore the author states this below, and Firefighter Patton also comments with this:
Homeowners considering a metal roof over shingles generally are looking for financial savings. Metal roofing is expected to last longer than asphalt shingles. However, when considering the increased safety risk during a fire, the savings might not be worth it. “Metal roofs are great, until you have a fire,” Patton said.
The author here is making an assumption without any research or survey to back the statement he is making. In my opinion yes homeowners do get metal roofs over shingles because there is a financial savings, but is that the only reason? The author of the article makes it certainly seem that way and if I asked homeowners with metal roofs they would have a difference in opinion. A metal roof is more expensive to install than a shingle roof that is a fact and most homeowners will only see the cost benefit over many years. We’ve been over the benefits of metal roofs before on this blog and we will continue to do so. They provide not only cost savings but environmental benefits as well. The quote by Mr. Patton, Firefighter in Crawfordsville, might be a great person but his quote is a bit on the ridiculous side. Does he think people want their houses to burn down? In conclusion it might be time for the Metal Roofing Alliance to get involved here and educate more about metal roofs and their benefits. This is a potentially huge opportunity for the metal construction industry, firefighter safety industry, and homeowners. There you have it let me know if you disagree with me or agree with the stance I have taken.

3 Comments

  1. Margaret Orozco

    Our landlord replaced the roof on our home 3 ur ago. He put it over the existing roof which was of shingles. He cut out all the vents that were on the roof before he put the metal roof. We recently had a house fire due to electrical problems amdthe fire went up the wall to attic they couldn’t get to it my question is if they’re were vents would it of helped in putting out thd fire

  2. Jeremiah Kuhn

    I am a volunteer firefighter and the popularity of metal roofs in our area has grow significantly over the last 10 years. I would estimate that 10-15% of homes in our area have a metal roof and 30-50% of all roofs being replaced are being replaced with metal. I spent last night fighting a fire in a home with a metal roof. If you ask most firefighters, they will tell you that they hate metal roofs, but many of us have, and would put a metal roof on our own homes.
    The reason for 99% of people going to a metal roof in our area is cost savings and longevity. The cost savings is that most contractors in our area will lay the metal roof directly over the old shingles saving labor and time. 90% of our house fires in the last 3 years have been homes with a metal roof. The correlation between the majority of our house fire and metals roofs is due to cost. New well built homes typically don’t catch fire and burn down (check insurance rate between new homes and 30+ yr old homes). I live in a lower income community any most of these fires are on homes that are older and have a lot of “patch work” done to them, and that’s the reason they burn down, its not the metal roof. But people that are just trying to get by, are choosing the metal roof because it is cheaper and they could possibly install it themselves.
    Why do we hate metal roofs? There are 3 reasons.
    1) If the house is a complete loss and it collapses in on its self, the metal roof stays connected is very difficult to move and work with. We are not allowed the let the fire just burn itself out, therefore we have to completely extinguish the fire and any smoldering areas. The metal roof is an obstacle and is not easily moved. We cannot unscrew the pieces because they are twisted, hot and lying on an unstable surface. We have to physically pull on the sheets of metal to tear them away from each other to access hot spots. Bringing in machinery is something we do, but usually only for commercial fires and if we know there is insurance to pay the cost. Removing a metal roof by hand in fire gear is exhausting and comes after you already have worked hard to put out the fire. It also adds 20-30% more time that we have to be there to put out the fire.
    2) The metal roof holds in heat and does not allow the fire to vent (burn a hole in the roof) and there for the fire consumes the whole house. In all fires, the heat travels up and the flames look to gain oxygen in a vertical path. The fire will burn a hole in your roof and once it does the fire spreads more slowly to other parts and gives us a chance to save part of the house. Also, if the homeowner is not home, the neighbors don’t see the early signs of smoke and fire due to the metal roof holding it in.
    3) Metal roofs are a bit harder to cut holes in and more dangerous to work on. It is not significantly harder to cut the hole in the roof, we have the proper blades on our chainsaws. It is a more slippery surface to work on but we able to handle it easily. As a volunteer department we don’t get the opportunity to cut many holes in metal roofs for venting due to the longer response time and compounded with the metal roof holding in heat there usually is not a whole lot to save.
    Do I think you should avoid a metal roof, absolutely not. They do a great job and provide a great value. It would different if they were a cause of a fire, but they are not. They just make battling the fire harder. The key to not losing your home to a fire is fire prevention. Have working smoke detectors, a fire extinguisher (know how to use it), and do quality work to your home not patch work. If you have a house fire, the metal roof is going to have very little difference unless the fire is caught early…..and most times it is not.

  3. This is a great topic…I would also like to add a couple of things. First, my brother-in-law is a firefighter and when I specifically asked him about this he commented that if they (firemen) have to cut holes in the roof to ventilate the fire, then the likelihood of there being survivors in a residential home are pretty slim. He continued to say, that usually at that point the fire has already consumed a large portion of the building. The danger metal roofs pose for firefighters, he claims, is with larger commercial buildings, where the construction is different and there are metal joists and rafters that can fail in a very short period of time after a fire has started…not so much with residential homes. Another point would be, since most commercial type buildings are in larger cities, they usually have a paid fire department that are well equipped and better trained for commercial fires. The point being, personally I think Patton’s statement is obviously one sided. Being a firefighter is a high risk profession and I’m sure he could point out several things that should not be put on or in a house from his perspective. However, those things may not be environmentally sustainable or financially achievable for most homeowners.

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