Fire in a Carport, Part 2

We’ve mentioned before about fires in carports and how, if addressed in a reasonable amount of time, the fire won’t spread to the home because of the properties of carports. Of course, this is if you own a portable carport, either one made entirely of metal or one made from metal and a polyethylene canopy, and not a carport attached to your home. Although not significant news, a carport caught fire near Topeka, and The Topeka Capital-Journal reported it. But, what’s notable about the fire not spreading to the home counteracts with the damage done to all materials inside the carport.

In the case of the linked article from The Topeka Capital-Journal, the carport had the fire contained, but the vehicle inside, unlike the adjacent home, wasn’t as fortunate and, as you can see from the picture accompanying the article experienced some damage. This applies to all vehicles and items stored within a carport or portable garage. If the shelter catches fire, most, if not all, items inside will be damaged or destroyed, although, in most cases, your home will remain unharmed from the blaze. Regardless of whether a car, boat, RV, or random items are inside the portable shelter, all are susceptible to fire.

Nevertheless, replacing or fixing a burned vehicle may run cheaper than fixing an entire side of a house, depending upon the strength of the fire. Carports, whether the fully metal portable shelters or the metal and polyethylene kind, all contain a frame made from galvanized steel. The steel itself won’t bend weaken from the blaze, unless exposed it to for about two hours. Similarly, the heavy-duty polyethylene used for many of the canopies on these structures can be treated to be fire retardant according to California fire codes and, as a result, helps keep the fire contained within the structure, as well.

Fire in Carport: Self-Contained in Structure

What happens when a fire starts in a carport? If the shelter is designed properly, it should stay inside the carport. In a town in British Columbia, Canada, a carport did have a fire start inside and, luckily, the fire stayed within the structure. According to the linked article, the residents of the home with the carport were alerted to the fire from a smoke detector and no one inside the house was hurt. The only damages to the home appeared to be from smoke. While whatever was inside the carport was damaged, the shelter kept the fire from spreading.

Why didn’t the fire spread? As we’ve seen before with outdoor portable structures like carports and portable garages, the structure is fire retardant. Many of these structures – although not all – need to meet California fire standards to be labeled as fire retardant, which includes NFPA 701, CPAI 84-7, and California Title 19 certification. Once a shelter passes all of these, it can be labeled as “fire retardant.’ Especially when such structures are used at fairs or any place in the sun, the shelter needs to not burn from fire. While this generally means from the outside, a fire can also occur inside the shelter, and this appears to be the case for this carport in British Columbia.

While passing such certification is nearly always associated with polyethylene portable garages and carports, metal carports can be fire retardant, as well. Galvanized steel is somewhat fire resistant, and this material makes up all carport frames and, for metal carports, the roof. While steel may change shape from fire after a couple of hours, this fire didn’t last that long and, regardless of whether the structure was made fully from steel or steel and polyethylene, the properties of the carport allowed it to be contained.