Companies hire private 'firefighters' to protect clients homes

HAILEY, Idaho (KBOI) - With multi-million dollar homes at risk in Hailey and Ketchum some insurance companies are hiring private crews with brush trucks to help protect from wildfires.

While many high end insurers offer the service it's now starting to show up for regular homeowners. At least 12 crews form California, Texas, and Colorado have traveled to Ketchum to help with mitigation efforts.

Most of the trucks are either owned or contracted out by insurance companies. While the service is relativity new and normally offered for higher end homes. it's starting to be offered for regular homeowners.

After several years of seeing large home loss from wildfires around the country many insurance companies are finding it cheaper to help mitigate the fire dangers before it hits.

Pat Durland is a fire mitigation expert from Boise who is overseeing the private crews.

"We are shifting from being totally reactive waiting for the fire to start, and then hitting it with everything we have," said Durland. "Because we are losing that battle."

Most of the crews don't actually fight fire, but help reduce fuels and create defensible space. Although most of their trucks could help battle flames.

Clients normally aren't charged for the service. Many insurance companies are starting to offer it to regular homeowners in fire prone areas.

Not only does it help protect their property, but it saves money for insurers who don't have to pay out large claims if a home is destroyed. People can check with their insurance company to see if they are eligible for the program.

Even if homeowners aren't the best thing they can do is create defensible space around their home. Durland said in many cases that can make the difference of a home surviving a wildfire.