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Vent Retrofit Program hardens Montecito homes ahead of fire season

By Christina Favuzzi
Apr 28, 2022 at 09:48 PM

MONTECITO, CA – Ahead of high fire season, the Montecito Fire Department is replacing vents at local homes with fire-resistant materials. The 2022 Vent Retrofit Program is an effort to go beyond defensible space by hardening homes in Montecito to make them more resilient to wildfire.

During a wildfire, embers can make their way through vents and other crevices. Those embers may ignite combustible material inside the home and potentially, lead to a home being severely damaged or destroyed.

The Montecito Fire Department and our partner agencies stand ready to respond to fires, but recent events have underscored the importance of implementing as many wildfire mitigation strategies as possible before a fire occurs.

Recent post-fire assessments have found hardened structures had over three times the likelihood of surviving compared to non-hardened structures. Additionally, studies analyzing the impacts of the Camp and Woolsey Fires of 2018 found many structures were lost due to ember-intrusion through vents.

To reduce the impacts of future wildfires in our community, the Montecito Fire Department allocated budget funds to initiate a Home Hardening Assistance Program. We encourage Montecito residents to take advantage of this free service.

Interested homeowners may apply to participate in the 2022 Vent Retrofit Program on montecitofire.com. Our Wildland Fire Specialists will identify properties within Montecito that will most benefit from upgrading their vents, based on their risk of being adversely affected by a wildfire.

The California Fire Code was recently updated to require vent screens are 1/8 to 1/16 inch apart. Newly designed vents provide excellent ventilation while preventing flames and embers from entering the home. These new ember-resistant vents will keep embers out and reduce structural ignitions during a wildfire.

Montecito Fire is one of the first fire departments in the West to provide free home hardening assistance to community members. In 2021, the debut of the Vent Retrofit Program proved to be an extraordinary success in our community. We are in conversation with several other local government agencies about how to implement a similar program based on Montecito Fire’s model.

For media questions, please contact Public Information Officer Christina Favuzzi at 805-680-5526. To learn more about home hardening strategies, visit montecitofire.com.

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