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Private Firefighters Save Policy Holders Homes, Raise Concerns.

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  • Private Firefighters Save Policy Holders Homes, Raise Concerns.

    Didn't see a sub-section for Private/Insurance company based Fire Fighting Services so dropping this here for discussion. Mods, move where it best fits.

    Source- https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/we...-their-n869061

    Insurance companies such as AIG are hiring experienced FFs as members of 2 man "mitigation" teams. They do pre-incident assessments and when a threat of wildfire occurs they are dispatched to perform tasks such as clearing brush and limps, foaming and spraying down exposures and hitting hotspots. It seems some of the government guys don't like the private services doing their own thing and not being part of their ICS. Frankly, I see this as being not much different than a company or homeowner contracting for Private Security when a threat of civil unrest occurs. Except these guys don't have Kevlar vests and pistols but have chainsaws and hoses.
    More about the AIG program featured in the article at- https://www-200.aigprivateclient.com...n-how-it-works
    Steve
    EMT/Security Officer

  • #2
    wow, here is a user I haven't seen in a while.....

    Based on the article, these guys are hired mercenaries, doing their own thing, without any oversight from the IC. They are freelancing. All is well, as long as they save the house: what happens if they get killed? What happens if forestry service creates a controlled burn, and it traps these guys because they don't know what's happening?

    What's to stop you and me from heading down and fighting some wildfire? Do you have any training? Do I? who cares, the insurance company is going to pay us big bucks to go down there.

    Lets move this to a structure fire. You are first due on the engine on a house fire, and as officer, start assigning tasks to your 4 man crew. While you are preparing to make entry, two guys in a brush truck pull around back, start breaking windows and spraying water from a booster line. They say they are from the insurance company, and were hired to save the house. do you have a problem with what they are doing?

    If these guys want to do prevention, before an incident, particular around the properties of their subscribers, I'm cool with it. you want to clear brush and limbs? awesome. you want to enter the warm or hot zone of a major incident? now we have an issue. You want to do your own thing, possibly interfering with our action plan, with no accountability or oversight? a bigger issue. If you want to help out, you report to the command post, advise them who you are, why you are here, and who requested you, and then we can talk. otherwise, your freelancing, and likely to get yourself or someone else killed.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

    Comment


    • #3
      Not sure I like the whole badge/uniform thing - it casts an official air on them, and they aren't municipal firefighters with the attendant authority..

      Beyond that, heck, if they can save my house, more power to them.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

      Comment


      • #4
        There is alot at stake for insurance companies, if a wildfire destroys a ritzy neighborhood. Millions in claims. Its cheaper for the insurance company to send in their own contracted team, than to risk losing anything to wildfire.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by drparasite View Post
          wow, here is a user I haven't seen in a while.....

          Based on the article, these guys are hired mercenaries, doing their own thing, without any oversight from the IC. They are freelancing. All is well, as long as they save the house: what happens if they get killed? What happens if forestry service creates a controlled burn, and it traps these guys because they don't know what's happening?.
          Did you READ the articles? They are no different from a homeowner staying behind to spray water on the house, or a security guard hired to sit in the house to make sure no one breaks in. They are assigned to that house, not to fighting the fire other than what directly impinges on that house. And fighting that part of the fire is but 10% of their job.

          Will your department be able to go and clear brush, apply phoschek, and keep an eye on that structure alone? No? Then let them do their job.

          Originally posted by drparasite View Post

          What's to stop you and me from heading down and fighting some wildfire? Do you have any training? Do I? who cares, the insurance company is going to pay us big bucks to go down there..
          The qualifications include,

          Must be ICS qualified at the minimum Engine Boss level. Will be required to accept wildfire assignments as Engine
          Boss.. Must be proficient with computers, digital cameras, scanners and other miscellaneous electronic equipment. Must have some public speaking skills.

          Must be able to possess a DOT drivers physical.

          Physical Demands: Must pass a Aurdous Pack Test with a 45lb pack walking 3 miles in under 45 minutes. Must be able to possess a DOT drivers physical.

          Experience and Education:

          REQUIRED TRAINING

          All NWCG required training and certifications as a ENGB

          REQUIRED EXPERIENCE

          Satisfactory performance as anEngine Boss, Single Resource (ENGB) on a wildfire incident.

          PHYSICAL FITNESS LEVEL Arduous

          The following positions maintain currency for ENGB:

          Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS) Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3) Incident Commander Type 4 (ICT4) Operations Section Chief Type 3, Wildland Fire (OPS3) Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 1 (RXB1) Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 2 (RXB2) Safety Officer, Line (SOFR) Single Resource Boss including (CRWB, FELB, FIRB, HMGB, HEQB) Strike Team Leader Engine (STEN) Task Force Leader (TFLD) ENGB

          Competencies
          • High attention to detail
          • Self ? managed and directed, able to proactively carry out responsibilities with minimal supervision
          • Composure during high stress situations
          • Professional appearance, demeanor and manners


          Do YOU have those qualifications?

          I would venture at a wildland fire these guys are better trained, equipped, and experienced than your average city FD at wildland fire fighting.


          Originally posted by drparasite View Post

          Lets move this to a structure fire. You are first due on the engine on a house fire, and as officer, start assigning tasks to your 4 man crew. While you are preparing to make entry, two guys in a brush truck pull around back, start breaking windows and spraying water from a booster line. They say they are from the insurance company, and were hired to save the house. do you have a problem with what they are doing?.
          Lets not. No where does it even talk about a response to a working fire.

          Originally posted by drparasite View Post

          If these guys want to do prevention, before an incident, particular around the properties of their subscribers, I'm cool with it. you want to clear brush and limbs? awesome. you want to enter the warm or hot zone of a major incident? now we have an issue. You want to do your own thing, possibly interfering with our action plan, with no accountability or oversight? a bigger issue. If you want to help out, you report to the command post, advise them who you are, why you are here, and who requested you, and then we can talk. otherwise, your freelancing, and likely to get yourself or someone else killed.
          The crew protecting one house is not going to effect your action plan, and should be simply treated as civilians. Perhaps the command staff in areas where they provide this service should be proactive in reaching out to them to share information in advance.


          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by tree68 View Post
            Not sure I like the whole badge/uniform thing - it casts an official air on them, and they aren't municipal firefighters with the attendant authority..

            Beyond that, heck, if they can save my house, more power to them.
            What badge/uniform thing?

            They don't need badges, and uniforms are all the rage for employers. What "authority" is conveyed by a set of turnouts?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post

              What badge/uniform thing?

              They don't need badges, and uniforms are all the rage for employers. What "authority" is conveyed by a set of turnouts?
              The employees in the images were wearing badges, and to the uninitiated (ie, the general public) would appear to be actual firefighters, not representatives of a company selling a product.

              There is a certain implied authority, or maybe the word should be trust, if you show up at the door in what appears to be official attire.
              Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

              Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                Did you READ the articles? They are no different from a homeowner staying behind to spray water on the house, or a security guard hired to sit in the house to make sure no one breaks in. They are assigned to that house, not to fighting the fire other than what directly impinges on that house. And fighting that part of the fire is but 10% of their job.
                did YOU??? a homeowner staying behind (especially after a mandatory evacuation order was given) is generally a bad thing however they are staying behind and protecting THEIR house, not being contracted to freelance outside of the jurisdiction of the AHJ.

                And no, they aren't like a security guard. they are more like a private armed police force.

                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                Will your department be able to go and clear brush, apply phoschek, and keep an eye on that structure alone? No? Then let them do their job.
                someone getting a little defensive? I wonder why my response touched a nerve.... and for the record, I would imagine that all FDs are trying to keep all the structure safe and undamaged.

                and as I mentioned, I have no issues with them clearing brush, especially in the safe area.
                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                The qualifications include,

                Must be ICS qualified at the minimum Engine Boss level. Will be required to accept wildfire assignments as Engine
                Boss.. Must be proficient with computers, digital cameras, scanners and other miscellaneous electronic equipment. Must have some public speaking skills.

                Must be able to possess a DOT drivers physical.

                Physical Demands: Must pass a Aurdous Pack Test with a 45lb pack walking 3 miles in under 45 minutes. Must be able to possess a DOT drivers physical.

                Experience and Education:

                REQUIRED TRAINING

                All NWCG required training and certifications as a ENGB

                REQUIRED EXPERIENCE

                Satisfactory performance as anEngine Boss, Single Resource (ENGB) on a wildfire incident.

                PHYSICAL FITNESS LEVEL Arduous

                The following positions maintain currency for ENGB:

                Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS) Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3) Incident Commander Type 4 (ICT4) Operations Section Chief Type 3, Wildland Fire (OPS3) Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 1 (RXB1) Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 2 (RXB2) Safety Officer, Line (SOFR) Single Resource Boss including (CRWB, FELB, FIRB, HMGB, HEQB) Strike Team Leader Engine (STEN) Task Force Leader (TFLD) ENGB

                Competencies
                • High attention to detail
                • Self ? managed and directed, able to proactively carry out responsibilities with minimal supervision
                • Composure during high stress situations
                • Professional appearance, demeanor and manners
                Where are you getting that information? I didn't see it listed in the article.
                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                Do YOU have those qualifications?

                I would venture at a wildland fire these guys are better trained, equipped, and experienced than your average city FD at wildland fire fighting.
                I don't; then again, I'm not a wildland firefighter with a red card (or whatever it's called), who deals with wildfires on a monthly basis. But If I was on one of those departments in the midwest, I would image it would be pretty common, especially if my departments was always getting large wildfires.

                I'm just curious: who enforces the training rules? is there any oversight? or are we trusting the for profit entity that everyone is properly training

                Let me guess: you work on the side as a wildland firefighter, and are taking it as a personal insult that someone doesn't want you freelancing on a scene. You have additional information, and seem to be very defensive. It's ok if you are, just state your biases and experience.

                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                Lets not. No where does it even talk about a response to a working fire.
                why not? it's the exact same concept. if it is good for brush fires, I would think you would be all for saving structures from burning?
                Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                The crew protecting one house is not going to effect your action plan, and should be simply treated as civilians. Perhaps the command staff in areas where they provide this service should be proactive in reaching out to them to share information in advance.
                I agree. Treat them as civilians. They can go in the safe area, and clear all the brush they want. You want to trim trees and move combustibles from the house? go nuts. You stay outside the firezone. You follow the directions of the Fire Department, and if they tell you to leave, you leave. You don't go in behind an active fire and lay down fire retardant, at least not without telling anyone else. You don't spray water on any fire; that's the job of the FD. You stay in the cold zone, away from any threat or potential threat.

                We can agree, if you act like a civilian, stay out of the warm or hot zone, and follow the directions of the local FD, and don't use any special equipment that a civilian wouldn't have. otherwise, your freelancing and a liability on the scene
                If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                FF/EMT/DBP

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tree68 View Post

                  The employees in the images were wearing badges, and to the uninitiated (ie, the general public) would appear to be actual firefighters, not representatives of a company selling a product.

                  There is a certain implied authority, or maybe the word should be trust, if you show up at the door in what appears to be official attire.
                  Pretty standard for for profit fire departments. But these guys are showing up at houses by prior agreement, so I am not seeing the issue. It would be comforting at best for the customers.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    did YOU??? a homeowner staying behind (especially after a mandatory evacuation order was given) is generally a bad thing however they are staying behind and protecting THEIR house, not being contracted to freelance outside of the jurisdiction of the AHJ.

                    And no, they aren't like a security guard. they are more like a private armed police force.
                    Sure did. As well as did additional research. This is NOT the homeowner, this is trained professionals.



                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    someone getting a little defensive? I wonder why my response touched a nerve.... and for the record, I would imagine that all FDs are trying to keep all the structure safe and undamaged.

                    and as I mentioned, I have no issues with them clearing brush, especially in the safe area.Where are you getting that information? I didn't see it listed in the article. I don't; then again, I'm not a wildland firefighter with a red card (or whatever it's called), who deals with wildfires on a monthly basis. But If I was on one of those departments in the midwest, I would image it would be pretty common, especially if my departments was always getting large wildfires.
                    Not defensive at all. I just have enough common sense to realize that the majority of big wildland fires the firefighters are not able to be at every structure. Why can't a private individual contract with trained and equipped professionals to make their property safer?

                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    I'm just curious: who enforces the training rules? is there any oversight? or are we trusting the for profit entity that everyone is properly training
                    Hmmmm.... NFPA, IFSTA, PROBOARD, NWCG, USFS, etc? Those certs are the type of requirements in place.


                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    Let me guess: you work on the side as a wildland firefighter, and are taking it as a personal insult that someone doesn't want you freelancing on a scene. You have additional information, and seem to be very defensive. It's ok if you are, just state your biases and experience.
                    LOL. Not me. I am not a wildland firefighter. Among my other duties I am a member of an AHIMT that may be called to support wildland fire fighting. You know - one of those groups that you feel has to know about the locations of all the private firefighters in the area.

                    I do research however. Scary thing that research, you learn stuff when you do that. Maybe you should look into it:?


                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    why not? it's the exact same concept. if it is good for brush fires, I would think you would be all for saving structures from burning? I agree. Treat them as civilians. They can go in the safe area, and clear all the brush they want. You want to trim trees and move combustibles from the house? go nuts. You stay outside the firezone. You follow the directions of the Fire Department, and if they tell you to leave, you leave. You don't go in behind an active fire and lay down fire retardant, at least not without telling anyone else. You don't spray water on any fire; that's the job of the FD. You stay in the cold zone, away from any threat or potential threat.

                    We can agree, if you act like a civilian, stay out of the warm or hot zone, and follow the directions of the local FD, and don't use any special equipment that a civilian wouldn't have. otherwise, your freelancing and a liability on the scene
                    https://wildfire-defense.com/career-opportunities.html Here is some information from my research. This is the company that provides most of the firefighting forces for insurance companies.

                    ​​​​​​​

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/...l05-story.html "Insurance companies began sending crews to wildfires around 2006, said Paul Broyles, former head of fire operations at the National Interagency Fire Center, which coordinates federal firefighting efforts from Boise, Idaho. Land use changes in the past two decades have allowed more homes to be built in or near wildfire-prone areas, prompting the insurance companies to offer such a service, said Michael Barry of the New York-based industry funded Insurance Information Institute.

                      "They got a job to do just like we do, and it's a legitimate response by the insurance companies," Broyles said."


                      And another federal voice on the subject,

                      "The private crews work closely with - and report to - incident commanders at the scene. Their presence means other firefighters can focus on other structures, said Greg Huele, a spokesman with the federal team in charge of the Colorado Springs fire.

                      "We can't be in there freelancing," Morris said. "Everything we do is coordinated.""

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post

                        Pretty standard for for profit fire departments. But these guys are showing up at houses by prior agreement, so I am not seeing the issue. It would be comforting at best for the customers.
                        If it's by prior agreement, not a problem. My concern would be them showing up unbidden (ie, a "sales call") with the cachet of authority.
                        Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                        Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          Sure did. As well as did additional research. This is NOT the homeowner, this is trained professionals.
                          ummm, you're the one who said it's not different than the homeowner staying behind. Here, let me refresh your memory:
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          Did you READ the articles? They are no different from a homeowner staying behind to spray water on the house, or a security guard hired to sit in the house to make sure no one breaks in. They are assigned to that house, not to fighting the fire other than what directly impinges on that house.
                          Hope that clears up that issue.
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          Hmmmm.... NFPA, IFSTA, PROBOARD, NWCG, USFS, etc? Those certs are the type of requirements in place.
                          ummm, none of those agencies are ENFORCEMENT agencies. they are agencies that set standards, but it's typically OSHA and the AHJ that can be held liable or fine individuals for using individuals who lack training, set forth by the cert agencies you listed (and NFPA is only a recommendation, not a law).
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          LOL. Not me. I am not a wildland firefighter. Among my other duties I am a member of an AHIMT that may be called to support wildland fire fighting. You know - one of those groups that you feel has to know about the locations of all the private firefighters in the area.
                          so as an AHIMT member, you encourage people to freelance, think it's acceptable that random people do what they want on a scene without being part of the AHJ's actual response, and are ok with a complete lack of accountability of who is operating within the confines on your incident? just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page
                          Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                          https://wildfire-defense.com/career-opportunities.html Here is some information from my research. This is the company that provides most of the firefighting forces for insurance companies.
                          they are one company... I am starting ABC wildfire to do the same. what's your point? we are both contractors?

                          If they wanted to be part of the solution, they could register with Emergency Management and be listed as a private contractor who could be called by the IC if needed.

                          But hey, you're the IMT guy, if you are ok with private contracts freelancing on a wildfire scene and doing their own thing, ignoring or not communicating with the command post, and having questionable training standards, well, I guess I'll had to say you work a scene differently than I would.
                          Last edited by drparasite; 06-06-2018, 09:05 AM.
                          If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                          FF/EMT/DBP

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LVFD301 View Post
                            [And another federal voice on the subject,

                            "The private crews work closely with - and report to - incident commanders at the scene. Their presence means other firefighters can focus on other structures, said Greg Huele, a spokesman with the federal team in charge of the Colorado Springs fire.

                            "We can't be in there freelancing," Morris said. "Everything we do is coordinated.""
                            Apparently not, at least not according to the firefighters who spoke on this exact topic in the NBC article:
                            "We check in at incident-command centers and say, 'Hi, we are AIG, we have all the safety equipment to be behind evacuation lines,'" he explained.

                            But in numerous cases, according to interviews with firefighters from multiple responding fire departments in the Sonoma fires, these "private" firefighters often did not check in with incident command.

                            "It's like: 'Who are you? Why didn't you check in?'" Andreis remembers thinking as he was responding to the fires. "How could we get aid to them if we needed to? It makes our job tougher in terms of knowing where resources are."

                            Sonoma Valley Fire Volunteer Batallion Chief Chris Landry, 41, also encountered private firefighters in October when he responded to the deadly Nuns Fire in the hills between the cities of Sonoma and Napa. At the time, fire was still tearing through dry grass on both sides of the road, downed powerlines and still-burning trees littered the roadway.

                            "I came across them on Trinity Road when I was checking on structures and said, 'Hey, have you checked in with the division?' and they said 'Yes.' Then I asked at incident command and they said 'No' [they had not checked in]," said Landry, emphasizing the importance of knowing where crews and personnel are at all times, especially in a dangerous, active fire.
                            If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                            FF/EMT/DBP

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In my Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), I would work with these private contractors. Why?

                              1) They have the same mission we do: Saving lives and property.

                              A) I would rather have a private contractor team in a fire zone, rather than property owners staying around and using their garden hose to try and save their property. The team would have more training and protective equipment (nomex gear, etc.), than a civilian off the street. I have seen way too much panic at fires from civilians. I would trust a team over disorganized civilians off the street..

                              B) I would rather be cooperative with them and have them work under my command, than ignore them and wonder what they are doing. I would get to know them, to know their capabilities (foam, personnel, etc.). I would also give them some ground rules, such as no back burning without AHJ command's permission. Also, permission, if they want to tap into the fire hydrants. If they intend to draft from a pond or bring in their own water tender, that would be acceptable.

                              C) The more they save, it saves the infrastructure in my AHJ. I lose tax base, when it goes up in smoke. I have been in communities after a disaster. Lots of finger pointing. If I can point out that extra resources were brought in, it can help quell the "blame game". "We had these extra resources here, but the fuel was dry and the wind speed was excessive, so we did what we could do as humanely possible".

                              Anyway, you can decide if you welcome them into your AHJ. To me they can be an asset, if you set up some ground rules with them ahead of time.
                              Last edited by FIRE117; 06-06-2018, 04:32 PM.

                              Comment

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