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Monday, 30 January 2017

WHY WAIT FOR 911? - Private Firefighting

Article written by: Kristopher Liivam, Canadian Registered Safety Professional & 
President, Arctic Fire Safety Services Limited

(Arctic Fire Safety is a Silver Sponsor of C4 2017)

When a wildland urban interface (WUI) fire occurs, it can easily overwhelm local emergency services, as was witnessed in Fort McMurray.  It is not because a wall of fire consumes everything in sight, as the radiant heat from even the largest of wildfires will damage but not consume a property if there are no fuel sources within 20 meters of the structure. The preliminary summary from the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction on the Fort McMurray fire indicated that 85% of the homes which were lost were from fire brands (flaming branches, pine cones, and ground debris) which were thrown ahead of the fire, which could be as far as 2 kilometres.   This is important to understand when discussing how to protect your clients and your company from wildfire claims and how private fire fighting companies can assist.

If you look into the history of private fire fighting and insurance, the relationship goes back hundreds of years. The origins of organised fire protection and fire insurance can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire. In modern history, companies such as AIG and Chubb either run their own fire brigades or sub contract them out to protect their clients' assets. The reason for this is not purely benevolent, as there is a strong business case to prevent total loss claims from wildfire. If you take a single home claim, you are looking at  hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even into the millions when adding up the content loss and living out allowances. These claims go up in a WUI because, due to the reasons mentioned above, dozens or even hundreds of homes are threatened all at once. As you will hear during the CatIq C4, the propensity of WUI in Canada is going to increase due to climate change and ongoing development in heavily forested areas. 

The cost to operate or contract out a small wildfire response team for the fire season would be about the same cost as 1 total home loss due to wildfire.  The benefit of having your own wildfire team is that when they are not being utilised for fire fighting they can be used to assess and educate your policy owners in Fire Smart within communities most susceptible to wildfire threats, with the goal of preventing a claim to begin. Municipalities simply do not have the resources to go out and evaluate every home and coach their residence on how to make their homes more resilient, so why not have an experienced fire fighter evaluate and coach your clients' for you? 

Should a wildfire threaten the community, the insurer could deploy that wildfire response team to protect the policies which would have the largest potential claims with indirect or direct attack methods. By using software, such as Red Zone, your valuations can be entered and prioritised to ensure the properties you want protected are. After all, if you called the municipality's fire chief or incident commander during a WUI and told them to protect a particular home because it would cost you millions of dollars in claims... you would probably hear a few choice words then a click!  So, "Why Wait for 911?" when you can ensure your clients' assets and your bottom line are protected?

Consider Arctic Fire Safety Services if you are looking for:

Please feel free to come chat during the conference or give me a call to discuss which options are best for you!

Kristopher Liivam, Canadian Registered Safety Professional
Arctic Fire Safety Services Limited
55 Luxstone Point SW
Airdrie, AB T4B 0H7

"Why wait for 911?" 

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