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Montecito Fire Protection District
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WILDLAND FIRE PREVENTION

DEFENSIBLE SPACE SURVEY

Protecting your Property

Each year, Wildland Specialists with Montecito Fire Protection District conduct approximately two hundred Defensible Space surveys with private property owners.

Our Wildland Specialists can help you harden your home now, before a fire starts by recommending ember resistant building materials and proper landscaping techniques.

The surveys focus on vegetated or landscaped zones around structures, the structures themselves, access to the property and the existing topograhy in the area. 

The Wildland Specialist will walk the entire property with the home owner, document the entire inspection, and provide the home owner with a Defensible Space Survey Report documenting follow up work if needed to achieve a defensible space for their home.

To schedule a complimentary Defensible Space Survey, please contact Wildland Specialist Maeve Juarez: 805-565-8018 or [email protected]


BEING READY - WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS

Being Ready for wildfire starts with maintaining an adequate defensible space and by hardening your home by using fire resistant building materials. Defensible space is the buffer you create by removing dead plants, grass and weeds. This buffer helps to keep the fire away from your home. Hardening your home means using construction materials that can help your home withstand flying embers finding weak spots in the construction, which can result in your house catching fire. It takes the combination of both Defensible space and the hardening of your home give your house the best chance of surviving a 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.


    MAINTAIN DEFENSIBLE SPACE

    Keep your property lean and green to help protect your family and home

    Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, or any wildland area that surround it. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire—either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of the firefighters defending your home.

    Protecting your Property


    Hardening Your Home

    Flying embers can destroy homes up to a mile from a wildfire. “Harden” your home now before a fire starts by using ember-resistant building materials.

    Here are some things you can do to harden your home and make it more fire resistant.

    Roof
    The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire. Build your roof or re-roof with materials such as composition, metal or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.

    Vents
    Vents on homes create openings for flying embers.
    • Cover all vent openings with 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch metal mesh. Do not use fiberglass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.
    • Protect vents in eaves or cornices with baffles to block embers (mesh is not enough).
    Eaves and Soffits
    Eaves and soffits should be protected with ignition-resistant* or non-combustible materials.

    Windows
    Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home ignites. This allows burning embers to enter and start fires inside. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable.
    • Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire.
    • Consider limiting the size and number of windows that face large areas of vegetation.
    Walls
    Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are combustible and not good choices for fire-prone areas.
    • Build or remodel your walls with ignition resistant* building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement, wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials.
    • Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.
    Decks
    Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant*, non-combustible, or other approved materials.
    • Ensure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.
    Rain Gutters
    Screen or enclose rain gutters to prevent accumulation of plant debris.

    Patio Cover
    Use the same ignition-resistant* materials for patio coverings as a roof.

    Chimney
    Cover your chimney and stovepipe outlets with a non-combustible screen. Use metal screen material with openings no smaller than 3/8-inch and no larger than 1/2-inch to prevent embers from escaping and igniting a fire.

    Garage
    Have a fire extinguisher and tools such as a shovel, rake, bucket, and hoe available for fire emergencies.
    • Install weather stripping around and under the garage door to prevent embers from blowing in.
    • Store all combustible and flammable liquids away from ignition sources.
    Fences
    Consider using ignition-resistant* or non-combustible fence materials to protect your home during a wildfire.

    Driveways and Access Roads
    Driveways should be built and maintained in accordance with state and local codes to allow fire and emergency vehicles to reach your home. Consider maintaining access roads with a minimum of 10 feet of clearance on either side, allowing for two-way traffic.
    • Ensure that all gates open inward and are wide enough to accommodate emergency equipment.
    • Trim trees and shrubs overhanging the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
    Address
    Make sure your address is clearly visible from the road.

    Water Supply
    Consider having multiple garden hoses that are long enough to reach all areas of your home and other structures on your property. If you have a pool or well, consider getting a pump.

    Useful Links
    Fire Information Engine—Homeowner Wildfire Assessment 
    University of California—Homeowner’s Wildfire Mitigation Guide 

    *Ignition-resistant building materials are those that resist ignition or sustained burning when exposed to embers and small flames from wildfires. Examples of ignition-resistant materials include “non-combustible materials” that don’t burn, exterior grade fire-retardant-treated wood lumber, fire-retardant-treated wood shakes and shingles listed by the State Fire Marshal (SFM) and any material that has been tested in accordance with SFM Standard 12-7A-5.

    FIRE-RESISTANT LANDSCAPING

    A fire-resistant landscape isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard. This type of landscape uses fire-resistant plants that are strategically planted to resist the spread of fire to your home. Fire resistant plants are great in California because they are often drought tolerant, too.

    The good news is, you don’t need a lot of money to make your landscape fire resistant. And you will find that a fire-resistant landscape can increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home.

    Choose Fire-Resistant Plants and Materials
    • Create fire-resistant zones with stone walls, patios, decks and roadways.
    • Use rock, mulch, flower beds and gardens as ground cover for bare spaces and as effective firebreaks.
    • There are no “fire-proof” plants. Select high-moisture plants that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content.
    • Choose fire-retardant plant species that resist ignition such as rockrose, ice plant and aloe.
    • Select fire-resistant shrubs such as hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub apples.
    • Plant hardwood, maple, poplar and cherry trees that are less flammable than pine, fir and other conifers.
    Check your local nursery, landscape contractor or county’s UC Cooperative Extension service for advice on fire-resistant plants that are suited for your area.

    Click here for a list of desirable plant choices.

    Click here for a list of undesirable plant choices.

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