Installing gutter guards and retrofitting your vent screens are some of the easiest ways to protect your home against wildfires. This is also known as home hardening and helps improve the chances of your home withstanding a fire due to ember cast, radiant heat, or direct flames. These and several other improvements can be made to your home to be better prepared for this fire season and future years to come.
Fires in roof gutters can easily spread to the exposed roof coverings. Aside from cleaning your gutters on a regular basis during fire season, installing gutter guards are inexpensive and easy to do. The guards prevent debris from pilling up in your gutters which can easily ignite from falling or windblown embers. The gutter guards also keep leaves out of drainpipes which can lead to clogs, damage or back-ups on rainy days. It is important that you use a noncombustible gutter guard.
Most of the older homes in and around the wildland urban interface (WUI) have ¼-inch openings in the vent screens. The screens come in various shapes and styles, but we recommend a minimum of a 1/8-inch noncombustible corrosion-resistant metal mesh screen to prevent embers from getting into your attic or crawl space. This size vent screen is the most common and requires less maintenance. 1/16-inch screens are also available, but you should consult with a building contractor, architect, or engineer to ensure that adequate ventilation exists based on the potential for restricted airflow. Note, vent screens will not prevent the intrusion of all embers, but it will help minimize their size and make your home more resistant to ember cast and wildfires.
The Fire Department has been awarded a FEMA funded Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) project to aid in home hardening. The first phase of the two-phase project will be to identify eligible residents that reside within the Wildland Urban Interface Area on a first come, first serve basis. The project would fund vent screening and roof gutter guards for structures and defensible space improvements. The second phase would be to physically implement the improvements. Look for more information in the coming months through City Connections and by visiting the City Efforts to Reduce Wildfire Risk at srcity.org/WildfireReady.
For more ways to harden your home, review the Wildfire Retrofit Guide and CAL FIRE’s Low Cost Retrofit List in our Property Owner Resource Library at srcity.org/WildfireReady.