Leadership

EARTH-SHELTERED HOUSING: FIRE PROTECTION CONSIDERATIONS

Issue 8 and Volume 136.

EARTH-SHELTERED HOUSING: FIRE PROTECTION CONSIDERATIONS FIRE PROTECTION Described as “a concrete solution to energy and ecology problems,” earthsheltered or underground housing is gaining in popularity throughout the United States, opening up new avenues in freeform design — and presenting one of the newest challenges to the fire service today. Earth-sheltered houses generally are built into the side of a hill, with one side of the building exposed. To make these structures watertight and airtight, steel-reinforced concrete is used, approximately 8-12 inches for the roof and 6-8 inches for the walls. To further enhance waterproofing and insulation, some designers apply a waterproofing compound over the entire exterior, as well as a urethane foam and a polyethylene sheet. Houses must be built at least 10 feet deep to take advantage of the constant temperature afforded by the earth. The more soil surrounding the structure, the less the dwelling is affected by seasonal…

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