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Home Hardening

Hardening Structures Against Wildfire

Tiny burning embers can blow ahead of a wildfire if wind conditions are right, igniting spot fires a mile or more away from the main fire. Therefore, it is important to create defensible space AND to harden your structures against ember-caused ignition. House upkeep, fire-resistant landscaping, building materials, and certain building design features can all play a role in your home’s susceptibility to ember-caused ignition.

pdfEmber Awareness

pdfDownload in-depth recommendations on best practices for avoiding structure ignition

pdfCalifornia FireSafe Council Hardened Homes Brochure

General Guidelines for Structure Hardening Against Wildfire:

  • Create adequate defensible space.
  • Choose fire-resistant building materials.
  • Keep gutters, roofs, and decks clear of needles, leaves, and other debris.
  • Clear under your deck if the space underneath has any debris (man-made or natural).
  • Place woodpiles and propane tanks away from buildings.
  • Do not store tools, equipment, or junk piles adjacent to house.
  • Ensure that if fences were to catch fire, they would not guide flames to your house.

Home Hardening In-Depth Presentation by Yana Valochovic (2-hour video presentation)

This Home Hardening video presentation will help you learn important steps you can take to better protect your family, home, and community by making your home more resistant to wildfires.

In fall 2019, the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County hosted a series of presentations on Home Hardening. Yana Valakovich, a noted expert in this burgeoning field, presents important material to residents here in Santa Cruz County who are interested in making their homes more fire safe. She graciously allowed us to record her presentation to share with others interested in this topic.

Watch the full length Home Hardening presentation including the Q+A  CLICK HERE.

Firescaping Basics from the Central Coast Chapter of the California Landscape Contractor’s Association (CLCA) (1 hour & 45-minute Zoom recording)

Industry leaders will share what they know about wildfire mitigation in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), an important topic for those of us who live in the rural parts of Santa Cruz County.

Here’s a chance to learn ways to help reduce risks related to low-intensity wildfires. Concepts to be presented include maintenance of vegetation, awareness, and management of combustible materials, thoughtful design, layout, and incorporation of fire and ember-resistant construction materials and plants, fire breaks, firescape designs, and the importance of neighborhood and community involvement.

Home Hardening Basics from the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County (45-minute Zoom recording)

This Home Hardening presentation covers the basics of home hardening and introduces the FireWise Community program for Santa Cruz County.

If you don’t have time right now for Yana’s in-depth presentation, this is a great way to get started.


Listen to a Home Hardening Talk with host Jean Kratzer’s on her program Exploring Santa Cruz on KSQD, our local Community Radio Station (97.1 FM).

Part 1      
Part 2