California Sets Framework for Wildfire Home Hardening Program

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is in the process of developing a program to better protect the homes of Californians who live in areas most vulnerable to wildfire.

New Law

Known as the Home Hardening Program, the financial assistance will be available to Californians who take specific steps to ensure their property has the best chance at surviving a wildfire. It’s part of the $536 million wildfire prevention bill Governor Gavin Newsom signed in April to strengthen the state’s resilience against wildfires.

The program will focus on hardening communities at extreme risk to wildfires and will prioritize those with high social vulnerability. It will provide direct financial assistance for low- and moderate- income households, in addition to education and outreach to entire communities. Fire science shows if more homes are “hardened,” communities are better protected from fire dangers. The program will take a whole community approach with the goal of hardening entire neighborhoods to increase their resilience to wildfires.

Home Hardening

Wildfire Home Hardening includes retrofitting homes with fire-resistant materials and creating defensible space around homes and communities. Home modifications include replacing the roof with metal, clay, or tile, installing metal gutters, and upgrading to dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass.

The California Wildfire Home Hardening Program will also provide:

  • Community and homeowner wildfire education on defensible space and home retrofitting.
  • A framework for community collaboratives with local resources to perform Home Hardening and Defensible Space work using Cal FIRE’s Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide, 10 Low-cost Retrofit List, and Residential Defensible Space
  • Direct financial assistance to support home hardening work for socially vulnerable and low- and moderate-income homeowners.

Receiving Hardening Resources

Californians should reach out to their local fire authority or the California Fire Safe Council with questions about the Home Hardening Program. Information on how to harden a home now can be found at www.readyforwildfire.org.

More information about the program will be available in advance of the program going into effect January 2022.