As California wildfires grow, homeowners, insurers hire private firefighting crews

Kim Kardashian West tapped a team when the devastating Woolsey Fire approached her Hidden Hills manse

Nov.November 28, 2018 10:00 AM
A Wildfire Defense Systems truck

Around California, insurance companies and homeowners concerned about the increasing threat of wildfires are turning to private firefighting crews for an added layer of protection.

An insurance company will typically hire private firefighting and prevention teams to safeguard policyholders’ homes and assets from damage, according to the Los Angeles Times. The companies see it as a cost-effective response to the fires, because hiring crews is cheaper than having to pay to replace a home and its contents.

In response to California’s most recent round of wildifres, including the Woolsey Fire that devastated parts of L.A. and Ventura counties, Montana-based firm Wildfire Defense Systems deployed 53 fire trucks, 100 firefighters and 50 support workers. The company has contracts with dozen insurance agencies, and has responded to 100 fires statewide over the last decade, according to the Times.

The work is typically preventive — the companies rake vegetation around homes, close windows and spray fire retardant around the property and homes. They will also extinguish small fires in the immediate area that threaten properties.

Homeowners can also hire crews outright, like Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West did earlier this month when the Woolsey Fire threatened their Hidden Hills home.

But the he proliferation of such services sometimes causes friction with traditional fire departments. The private firms work independently of municipal team and aren’t anywhere near as robust. Some firefighters say the private firms don’t coordinate well enough and can create a safety hazard with their presence. [LAT]Dennis Lynch 

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