Montecito Neighborhood Fire Prevention Project

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Source: Montecito Fire Protection District

The Montecito Fire Department will begin its annual Neighborhood Fire Prevention Project on Monday, March 2, 2020.  Each spring, the Montecito Fire Department partners with our district residents to prepare for the approaching High Fire Season and reduce the density of vegetation along strategic portions of roadways and private properties. 

The intent of this Neighborhood Fire Prevention Project is to assist our community members in increasing the defensible space around values most at risk from wildfire.  We also encourage fuels reduction to occur along driveways and roadways to provide safer evacuation routes for the community, and give first responders efficient access to the area.  Creating a buffer between vegetation, access routes, and homes ensures a wildfire won’t have the combustible material needed to reach these improvements.  Often the vegetation cut by the property owner is following recommendations made during a Defensible Space Survey.  The annual project starts with each property owner receiving a Neighborhood Fire Prevention Project mailer identifying the specific dates the project will be in each participating neighborhood.

The mailer provides specific instructions, which identify the responsibilities of the homeowner. These include items such as their responsibility to cut the vegetation, how and where to place the cut material, and what material cannot be chipped (vines, grass, palms, succulents, and other small trimmings) and must be placed in one of the program provided roll-off dumpsters.

The Fire Department contracts out the chipping of the cut vegetation.  Our contractor spends the ten-weeks the program is occurring assisting the department with the chipping and the “tagging and trimming” portions of the project.  Low hanging branches, which hang lower than 13.5 feet above roadways are identified (“tagged”) by the Fire Department during their inspections of the neighborhoods.  Eco Tree Works then removes (“trims”) the flagged branches.

Clearing these areas not only improves fire engine access, but also reduces the amount of heat that evacuating residents might be exposed to during a fire, improves visibility, and expands the usable width of roadways on Montecito’s narrow streets.

The Montecito Fire Department offers this program to over 1,300 residents located within the Very High Fire Severity Zone of the community.  Reducing the volume of flammable vegetation helps to create more defensible and survivable space around the property and reduces the overall community threat from wildfire.

For more information about the Neighborhood Fire Prevention Project or to schedule a complimentary property survey, please contact our Wildland Fire Specialists: Maeve Juarez or Nic Elmquist at (805) 969-7762 or email [email protected]com

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