Board votes to oversee grant program to strengthen homes in rural communities –

County fire inspectors examine the exterior of a home for fire vulnerabilities.
File photo/

The County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday, June 14 to establish a Home Reinforcement Program as part of a state pilot program to encourage homeowners to create fire-resistant homes.

San Diego County is one of three counties selected to participate in the California Wildfire Mitigation Program, which will fund the county’s initiative. In December, the board accepted a $250,000 CAL FIRE/CAL OES grant for program development. CAL FIRE/CAL OES has since approved the county’s nearly $25 million grant application to implement the 3-year program. Funding is expected in the fall, which will allow the project to officially start.

“I am proud to serve on a board that prioritizes fire prevention and preparedness, especially in the rural areas of my district which we know are most prone to wildfires.” said county supervisor Joel Anderson. “Hardening homes and creating defensible spaces is critical to saving lives, and I am grateful that three backcountry communities in District 2 are being offered this opportunity for financial assistance.”

Two of the most effective steps homeowners can take to protect themselves and their homes from wildfires are to maintain a defensible space and update their home using fire-resistant materials, also known as “reinforcement”. home,” San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said.

The program will provide direct financial assistance, up to $40,000 per home, to complete defensible space renovation and home reinforcement measures. The program will help some 500 homeowners under the three-year pilot project, he said.

“Homes that lack defensible space or were built long before fire code modernizations are much more vulnerable during a wildfire,” said San Diego County Fire Director Jeff Collins. “The initial phase is taking place in one of our most at-risk communities, where we intend to further protect a number of homes with fire-resistant materials and critical clearing of vegetation.”

Based on a detailed analysis of wildfire risk and vulnerability in the county, the program will help the communities of Dulzura, Potrero and Campo, which are the most needy areas, Mecham said.

County Fire has already begun outreach to the Dulzura community and is accepting applications for those in the 91917 zip code. The goal is to help harden 25 homes by the end of the year. In 2023, the program will expand to Potrero with a goal for another 100 homes in both communities. By 2024, they will add Campo and set a goal to strengthen 375 additional homes in the three communities.

Defensible space, which includes pruning, cutting, and clearing vegetation within 100 feet of a home or accessory unit, will be the first thing the program recommends for funding, if the home needs it.

After these measurements, they will review home modifications based on their vulnerability to embers, radiant heat, and flames. These renovations may include replacing the roof with a noncombustible material, installing metal gutters, and upgrading to double-glazed windows with a single pane of tempered glass.

Construction costs will be fully covered for households whose income is less than 120% of the median income of the zone. As fire has no economic barriers, homeowners earning above the 120% zone median household income will still be able to participate in the program with a cost share of between 10% and 25% of the cost. total of the project.

(Yvette Urrea Moe/San Diego County Communications Office) not

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