NCO’s Home Hardening Initiative holds first contractor walkthrough

Thursday, January 25, North Coast Opportunity’s (NCO) Lake County Home Hardening Initiative, a part of the California Wildfire Mitigation Program (CWMP), had its first contractor walkthrough at a residence in the Kelseyville Riviera pilot project site.

The walkthrough was attended by representatives from local government, NCO, CWMP Staff, and numerous contractors.

The walkthrough is a major step for the pilot program, which has been working towards breaking ground for over a year. Now that a walkthrough has happened, the program will break ground on home retrofit and defensible space measures within 30-60 days, said Home Hardening Program Manager Deanna Fernweh.

The California Wildfire Mitigation Program (CWMP) Home Hardening Initiative (which is funded by a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant and funds from Senate Bill 85) aims to perform defensible space and retrofit measures on existing residential homesites to mitigate against wildfire loss.

The residential walkthrough allows vetted contractors to examine the Scope of Work and put in a bid on completing the necessary retrofits and defensible space measures. From there, the bids are examined, a contractor is selected, and work starts within 30 days.

The Kelseyville Riviera neighborhood was selected two years ago by the CWMP based on several factors including potential fire risk to the area, similarity in when the houses were built, and what building codes the homes were built to said Lake County District 5 Supervisor and NCO Board Member Jessica Pyska, who was at the walkthrough Thursday.

Pyska, who has been involved with the project since its inception, said fire mitigation efforts like the Wildfire Home Hardening Initiative are especially important to her after she lost her home in the 2015 Valley Fire, a fire that severely damaged parts of southern Lake County and the surrounding communities.

The Valley Fire is also why homeowner Cheryl Crockett, whose house was the subject of Thursday’s walkthrough, said she decided to take part in the Home Hardening Initiative pilot program.

“(The program) should be mandatory.” Crockett said. “During the Valley Fire they evacuated the neighborhood and I had to sleep at work. I couldn’t get back (to my home.)”

Crockett said the Home Hardening Initiative gives her peace of mind, knowing that it will make her home safer in the event she is ever forced to evacuate again.

Fernweh said the program’s goal is to complete up to 500 homes in the next 3 years.

The California Wildfire Mitigation Program has engaged six demonstration communities to pilot the Wildfire Home Hardening Initiative. These communities are located within Lake, San Diego, Shasta, El Dorado, Tuolumne, and Siskiyou counties.

Projects developed for these communities’ leverage $95 million in Federal funds through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) with $21.9 million in State dollars from SB 85 (2022).

The scope for these projects includes defensible space and ignition resistant retrofits to harden approximately 2,500 homes over the next few years. NCO was the first of the six CWMP demonstration community organizations to be approved by the CWMP and FEMA.

For more information you can attend one of the Lake County Home Hardening Initiative’s periodic meet and greets at NCO’s Clearlake office located at 14290 Olympic Drive, Suite B. You can also visit the Home Hardening Initiative’s website at

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