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By Joyce Reed
Mar 02, 2021 at 09:56 PM

MONTECITO, CA –During a wildfire, most homes burn from the inside out. This means embers make their way into the home through vents and other crevices and ignite combustible material inside the home and attic. The Montecito Fire Department and our partnering agencies stand ready to quickly respond to fires, but recent events have reinforced the importance of implementing as many wildfire mitigations as possible before an incident occurs.  During post fire assessments, hardened structures proved to have over three times the likelihood of surviving compared to non-hardened structures. Watch this video demonstrating windblown embers to see how homes ignite during a wildfire.  

In 2019, the Montecito Fire Department amended the Community Wildfire Protection Plan to include recommendations considering lessons learned from the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons. Two of these recommendations relate directly to structure hardening:

  • Seek innovative structure hardening programs and methods to enhance structure defensibility.
  • Consider seeking opportunities to develop a cost-share grant program to share the costs of structure hardening or replacing flammable vegetation with more fire-resistant vegetation.  

To meet these recommendations, the Montecito Fire Department set aside funds from the 2021 Fire Defense Zone Budget to initiate a Home Hardening Assistance Program (HHAP). This year’s HHAP will focus on vent replacement and upgrades. Ordinary vents are designed for ventilation through a simple mesh screen. This design allows flames, sparks, and embers to pass through the vent and enter the home. Vents designed specifically for homes in very high wildfire danger areas will offer protection against flames and embers while still providing adequate ventilation.  

To learn more about the Vent Retrofit Program, including how to apply, visit the programs webpage at .  Please contact one of our Wildland Fire Specialists, Maeve Juarez or Nic Elmquist at (805) 969-7762, if you have any questions or to schedule a complimentary property survey.

Posted in Press Releases.
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