PATH Technologies for Fire Reconstruction

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Several PATH Technologies can significantly benefit fire reconstruction efforts. Some increase the disaster (fire) resistance of the home or development, and some significantly reduce the time it will take to redevelop and rebuild. Many of these technologies can also reduce the cost of rebuilding, either through labor savings or by substituting lower cost materials for traditional materials that may even be more expensive than usual due to high demand. Some of these technologies even increase earthquake resistance. Rebuilding after the blaze


Framing with Residential Light Gauge Steel in combination with Steel L-Headers, both of which are non-flammable materials, can be a cost effective alternative to wood framing, especially when wood is scarce or in high demand. Combination Steel/Wood Framing is another alternative that is stronger, less flammable, and can be significantly less costly than wood framing.

Fiber-Cement Siding is non-combustible and advertised to be more durable than wood — it is also termite-resistant and warranted to last 50 years. The installed costs of fiber-cement are reported to be less than traditional masonry or synthetic stucco, equal to or less than hardboard siding, and more than vinyl siding.

Low Impact Development and Xeriscaping techniques offer developers a cost effective way to address storm water management and enhance the fire-resistance of sites through site planning and best management practices. These strategies allow land to be developed in a safer and environmentally responsible manner.

Rainwater Harvesting, besides providing a source of free water for everyday use, is a way to store water that can be used to suppress fire even if municipal water is no longer available.


Site Work

If sewer reconnections are a problem during reconstruction, or if sites have high bedrock and/or low soil percolation rates Shared (Community) Wastewater Treatment Systems, sometimes called shared septic systems, are an affordable, space-saving solution. These systems consist of a single larger drain field/treatment area connected to each house’s individual septic tank.


Concrete Footing and Pier Forms are quicker and less expensive alternatives to conventional forming methods for concrete footings and piers.

A Crawl Space Foundation System, also known as a Fast Track Foundation System, is a series of structural corrugated steel wall panels positioned along existing in-place structure, then cast into place, creating a foundation wall. The panels are quickly and easily installed with minimally trained labor. It is not appropriate for slab-on-grade construction, and may provide only limited cost benefit for basement foundation construction.

Walls, Roofs and Decks

Panelized Wall and Roof Systems, including Structural Insulated Panels and SIP Modular Housing, can be manufactured offsite while the sitework and foundations are being prepared, and then can be assembled swiftly by less skilled laborers, significantly accelerating the overall homebuilding process. Steel Framed Modular Housing has the same advantages with respect to decreasing the building cycle, and has less flammable content.

When entire subdivisions must be rebuilt, an On-Site House Factory could be established to build wall or floor panels, or modular homes. The home construction plant can be either a movable manufacturing facility, or can be planned into the subdivision’s development mix, and re-commissioned as a community or day care center, office, loft, apartment, or condominium suites.

Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic Exterior Decks need no maintenance, do not crack, split, or warp, and is stronger and more durable than traditional decking. Traditional wood decking materials, both preservative-treated and naturally rot-resistant materials, have a life expectancy ranging from 10 to 20 years when maintained periodically with chemical sealants, whereas FRP decks are expected to last the life of the home. Normally, the installed cost of FRP decks is about double that of decks constructed with preservative treated wood, and about 50 percent more than redwood and cedar decks. However, due to the high demand for wood during this rebuilding process, this price differential might be significantly less.


Electrical Raceways, commonly used in commercial buildings, are now available for residential applications. Electrical raceways can simplify and speed the task of wiring, and reduce wall penetrations that can compromise a building’s thermal performance.


Reduce the time it takes to install the domestic water piping by installing a home run plumbing system using a Plastic Plumbing Manifold and Aluminum-Plastic Composite Water Piping. Manifold plumbing systems are control centers for hot and cold water that feed flexible supply lines to individual fixtures. Plastic manifolds together with flexible plastic piping can be quickly installed and offer installation-related cost advantages over conventional plumbing systems. The Composite piping can be installed in walls, ceilings, concrete slabs and underground. The pipe’s flexibility makes it easy to snake through wall studs and floor joists, and increases its earthquake resistance.

Flexible Gas Piping is easier to install than traditional threaded black-iron piping because it is lightweight, easy to bend, and requires fewer connections and fittings than conventional piping. These benefits can speed installation and add up to substantial labor savings for builders. The flexibility of this piping also enhances its durability in earthquakes.

Air Admittance Valves (AAVs) eliminate the need for conventional pipe venting and roof penetrations. Manufacturers estimate a 25% to 75% reduction in the amount of venting materials needed for the system overall, so installation efficiency can be greatly increased. AAVs eliminate the need for lateral return vent runs that require cutting several holes through wall studs, or long runs of vertical piping that must pass through the ceilings, attic, and roof. AAVs can also eliminate the need for firestopping materials at floor/wall penetrations.


Home Builders’ Guide to Manufactured Housing May 2000
This Guidebook provides conventional builders and land developers with an introduction to manufactured housing, focusing on differences between manufactured and conventional homes that are likely to be encountered in practice. The guide also covers finding a manufacturer, developing product specifications, potential contractual arrangements, local zoning and land-use planning considerations, installation and foundation options, site-built improvements, regulatory issues, and consumer financing.

HUD Rehab Guide: Volumes One-Nine
The HUD Rehab Guide series, written for builders, architects, engineers, and other housing rehabilitation professionals, aims to speed acceptance of innovative housing technologies and state-of-the-art practices in nine areas. The nine volumes cover a distinct element of housing rehabilitation and feature breakthrough materials, labor-saving tools, and cost-cutting practices.

Residential Steel Framing: Fire and Acoustic Details September 2002
This report investigates regulatory requirements, available test data, and typical practices relating to acoustics and fire protection of cold-formed steel framing. The intention is to give an overview of current regulations, as well as a “snap shot” of available fire and acoustic cold-formed steel assemblies.

Smart Codes in Your Community: A Guide to Building Rehabilitation Codes August 2001
This report provides a broad overview of the general regulatory environment governing the use and reuse of existing buildings. It also provides examples of state and local efforts to reduce regulatory complexity, and suggests possible strategies to help spur reinvestment in the existing building infrastructure.

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