During a wildfire, homes can be threatened by:
- Radiant heat
- Direct flame contact
- Wind-blown embers
In wildfire events, 60-90% of home loss is due to embers. 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 resulting from wind-blown embers. These and several other improvements can be made to your home to be better prepared for this fire season and future years to come.
Attic and crawl space vents provide an entry point for embers. 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 Santa Rosa Fire Department recommends 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.
Fires in roof gutters can easily spread to the exposed roof coverings where a gutter is attached. Aside from cleaning your gutters regularly during fire season, installing gutter guards is inexpensive and easy to do. The guards prevent debris from piling 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.
Look for more information in the coming months by visiting the City Efforts to Reduce Wildfire Risk at SRCity.org/WildfireReady. For more ways to harden your home, review CAL FIRE's Wildfire Retrofit Guide and CAL FIRE’s Low Cost Retrofit List in our Property Owner Resource Library at SRCity.org/WildfireReady.