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since 1917
Montecito Fire Protection District
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Protecting Your Property From Wildfire

To learn how you can prepare for wildfires, download and save Ready! Set! Go! - Your Wildfire Action Plan.

Brochures are also available at both Montecito Fire Stations.

Wildland fires have always been a part of Montecito's natural environment.

Areas of Montecito will burn again. This is not maybe. This is a given.
Due to development in the wild land environment, properties have taken on more of a risk.

Five notable fires that have burned in our area:
Coyote 1964 - Romero 1971 - Sycamore 1977 - Tea 2008 - Jesusita 2009
Over 686 Structures destroyed

Firewise Terminology

Defensible Space: The term defensible space refers to that area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and allow fire fighters to safely operate. Research results clearly demonstrate that defensible space improves the probability of house survival during wildfire.

Survivable Space: Same as "Defensible Space" but focusing on no fire suppression available. During major wildfires resources are limited and it is unlikely every home will have a fire engine in their front yard. Can your home survive with no fire suppression equipment?

Hardscaping: Landscaping with non-flammable materials. Rocks, boulders, interlocking concrete pavers, walls and natural stone are but a few options for this design technique. The advantages are many: Will not burn, no maintenance, no watering and can be very attractive.

Firefighting Foam: Foam is used by fire departments as a fire extinguishing agent and pre-treatment agent for flammable and combustible materials. When proportioned with water using the appropriate eductors, foam concentrate changes the properties of the water, reducing the surface tension and allowing for greater penetration in all Class-A fuel and wildland fires. It also gives the water a foaming ability allowing it to remain and cling to the surfaces without run off as quickly as plain water. By using foam you can extend the usefulness of a limited water supply and make your fire protection system 3-5 times more effective than with plain water alone. Wildland Foam is available to the general public by numerous vendors.

Firefighting Gel: Gel is a hydrating polymer which creates a thermal barrier that clings to vertical surfaces making it ideally suited for exposure protection. By encapsulating the water into a gel product evaporation is significantly reduced. In addition the gelled product will stick to vertical surfaces much better than foams or plain water alone. Gel can be applied to exterior structural surfaces including metal, glass, stucco and wood. It may also be applied with success to compressed gas cylinders, motor vehicles, fuel tanks.

Why Firewise Planning

Wildfires are unpredictable! It can find the weak link in your home's fire protection scheme and gain the upper hand because of a small, overlooked or seemingly inconsequential factor. While you may not be able to accomplish all measures below (and there are no guarantees), each will increase your home's, and possibly your family's, safety and survival during a wildfire. Start with the easiest and least expensive actions. Begin your work closest to your house and move outward. Keep working on the more difficult items until you have completed your entire project. Then continue to improve, you are never done.

Prepare years and/or hours ahead of the fire!
Action Items

  1. Remove flammable vegetation (particularly dead materials) around your home for a minimum of 100 feet.
  2. Noncombustible roofing is a must. Class "A" roofing is a requirement in the Montecito Fire Protection District.
  3. The Roof area must be completely tight, eliminating the chance of embers getting into this critical area.
  4. Bird stops should be installed over all roof openings. Rain gutters must be kept clean, remove any leaves.
  5. Remove all flammable materials adjacent to structures, such as woodpiles, patio furniture, combustible trash,
  6. Do not store any type of lumber/wood next to or near any structures. Including garages and storage sheds.
  7. Install fire (heat) and ember resistant vents to eliminate embers from entering through eaves, soffits, roof and foundation vents.
  8. Install dual-pane/ tempered exterior glass windows. Vinyl cladding is not recommended.
  9. For adequate protection of your home, wood decks, gazebos, hot tub structures, sheds, children's play structures must be constructed to the same building standards (code) as your home.
  10. When possible have ladders that reach the roof. Consider placing against the street side of the house when you evacuate, anyone who stops to help can see them.
  11. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub consider the purchase a portable pump and fire hose. Test and maintain these regularly.
  12. Have an adequate number of large diameter garden hoses, connect and check water pressure.
  13. Consider purchasing a home fire protection system. (many commercial foam /gel products are available)
  14. Displaying your street address is mandatory; use visible reflective 6" numbers of a color which contrasts with its background, in some cases you may need more that one set of address numbers.
  15. Access to your home is critical, remove any limb or vegetation that extends into roadway and limits or hampers emergency vehicle access. Overhead clearance of 13'6" and horizontal clearance of 10' is required.

IMPORTANT: We are not recommending you stay and fight the fire, the decision to remain and protect your home can only be made after proper training and planning. Your physical fitness, health and proper clothing must be considered. Should you become trapped by a wildfire, the safest place may be to retreat to the inside of a house or vehicle.

Preparing for Floods

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.

Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.

30 percent of flood claims come from areas with minimal flood risk. It is important to know that damages from flooding are typically not covered under most homeowner insurance policies. Statistics indicate that your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of fire. For more policy and claim statistics, visit the National Flood Insurance Program.

Weather termonolgy relating to flooding:

(Abbrev. ADVY)- Highlights special weather conditions that are less serious than a warning. They are for events that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.

Click here for more information on Weather terminology.

Flooding Preparedness Resources:

Preparing for Floods: Before, During and After

Homeowner's Guide to Flood Prevention and Response

Preventing Soil Erosion on your Property 

Preparing for Earthquakes

One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible after effects.

Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning at any time of the day or night. If an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries and extensive property damage.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during an earthquake, identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can save lives and significantly reduce injuries and property damage.

Earthquake Preparedness Resources:

Earthquake Country

USGS -  Current Earthquake Data

Southern California Seismic Network

Earthquakes & Tsunamis Prepardness

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