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Home hardening can help property owners avert fire disaster

By Greg Mellen, Behind the Badge

Photo by Pixabay

Together they meticulously examine dormers, eaves, attic vents, siding, the roof, connections between fences and gutters and the house.

They review the landscaping, the types, height, and proximity of vegetation. Decks and patios get the once-over as well.

Kim Brown, Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Assistant Fire Marshal, scans everything with a practiced eye as she walks around the Rancho Santa Margarita home of Rich Keenan as part of a free Home Assessment consultation. OCFA offers in-person as well as online assessments. Tours last about 45 minutes and homeowners receive a detailed report showing how their homes and lots rate and areas in which they can improve.

In fire-prone areas, like much of Orange County, residents can always improve their overall fire preparation. Public safety sites such as ReadyOC have specific sections on wildfires preparedness including clearing vegetation, identifying evacuation routes and having enough supplies in your household.

In the wake of an unusually wet winter of atmospheric rivers after a calm fire season, there is unprecedented undergrowth on hillsides, which translates into excessive fuel for fires. Earlier this year, State Farm announced it would not sell any new home insurance policies in California. With that announcement came a revelation by Allstate that it had quietly made the same decision last year, all of which underscores the importance of protecting homes from fire.

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