The Brick Advantage:Safety

Obviously, the elements are beyond our control, and rarely do they appear to be on our side. So this is a surprising story in which two of these primal Elements, Earth and Fire, joined forces to defeat the blustery third.

Flying Debris Test video

Vinyl siding and fiber cement are pitted against brick to show how they stand up to flying debris. See the video.

This is the story of Nancy and Don Coey and their family on the memorable evening of September 6 just a few short years ago. That’s when Hurricane Fran bullied her way into their neighborhood in north Raleigh. Packing 100-mile-per-hour winds, Fran looked certain to make their home a pile of rubble. “But she wasn’t able to blow our house down, because it was brick,” says Nancy, author of the book Finding Gifts in Everyday Life. Brick, you know, the very stuff made by the joining of Earth and Fire in primal simplicity.

Nancy and Don Coey

Nancy and Don Coey

At the height of Fran’s fury, the Wind uprooted a 100-year-old oak in the Coey’s yard. The tree, estimated at 18 tons, smashed into their roof, cracking rafters and destroying a foot-high “knee wall” between the ceiling and the roof. But the behemoth stopped at the brick wall above their second-floor window.

“If the house had siding instead of brick, the tree would have sliced right through it,” said Ian Riley, owner of Riley Construction Company in Raleigh, who repaired the Coey’s home.

“Because the brick held, the force of the impact was spread out – it didn’t all come straight down,” reflects Nancy. “Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be here.”

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