Vent Retrofit Program hardens Montecito homes ahead of fire season

Vent Retrofit Program hardens Montecito homes ahead of fire season title=
Vent Retrofit Program hardens Montecito homes ahead of fire season
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Source: Montecito Fire Department

[Last week], the Montecito Fire Department finished a pilot program to replace vents at local homes with more fire-resistant materials. The 2021 Vent Retrofit Grant Program is an effort to go beyond defensible space by hardening homes in Montecito and making 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.

Home damaged by the Tea Fire 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. During the month of March, we accepted applications from interested homeowners for our 2021 Vent Retrofit Grant Program. Then, our Wildland Fire Specialists identified nine properties within Montecito that would 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 thanks BrandGuard Vents for collaborating with us on this pilot program and bettering our community by installing ember-resistant vents in local homes.

The 2021 Vent Retrofit Program has proven to be a success in our community in its first year and we encourage residents to participate in this free service next year. To schedule a complimentary Defensible Space Survey and inquire about home-hardening strategies, contact our Prevention Bureau at 805-969- 7762 or visit for resources.

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