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Woolsey Fire exposes a new insurance trend: private, for-hire firefighters

Firefighters douse flames and smoke near homes in West Hills, California on November 11, 2018, as they continue their battle to control the Woolsey Fire. - Near Los Angeles, where the fire is threatening mansions and mobile homes alike in the coastal celebrity redoubt of Malibu, the death toll has so far been limited to two victims found in a vehicle on a private driveway. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Firefighters douse flames and smoke near homes in West Hills, California on November 11, 2018, as they continue their battle to control the Woolsey Fire.

Wildfire season is year-round in California. In November alone, dozens of lives have been claimed, more than a hundred thousand acres have been burned and thousands of structures have been destroyed between the Camp and the Woolsey fires.

Wildfire season is year-round in California. In November alone, dozens of lives have been claimed, more than a hundred thousand acres have been burned and thousands of structures have been destroyed between the Camp and the Woolsey fires.

City and county firefighters are tasked with protecting life and property during these natural disasters, but now, a new privatized sector of firefighters is on the rise. Crews are typically paid for by insurance companies, which isn’t unusual in other parts of the world.

Earlier this month, private firefighters successfully battled the Woolsey fire flames that were encroaching on Kim Kardashian West’s home. But that crew also broke state guidelines by not obtaining permission to enter a mandatory evacuation zone, and therefore potentially putting putting other firefighters at risk.

Larry Mantle is joined by a panel of guests to learn more about the rise in private firefighters.

Guests:

Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles-based reporter for BuzzFeed News; he’s been following the story; he tweets

David Torgerson, president of Montana-based Wildfire Defense Systems, which contracts with the U.S. Forest Service and insurance companies across 20 states to increase the survivability of homes

Carroll Wills, communications director at California Professional Firefighters, the state union representing professional firefighters and departments throughout California

Bill Stewart, forestry specialist and co-director of Center for Fire Research and Outreach at University of California, Berkeley

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