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New financial incentives to make wildfire preps

Posted at 1:33 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 20:24:11-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — With fire officials continuing to warn that wildfire season is year-round, the state has launched new initiatives meant to get homeowners and businesses to make necessary preparations now.

Lakeside Fire Protection District Chief Don Butz says firefighters sign up to serve the community. He's also hoping the community can step up to make their job easier.

"If there's some work that can be done to minimize that hazard to our firefighters and make our job more effective, I can protect more homes if more homes had that baseline protection," he said.

He's talking about things such as clearing brush to make defensible space around a property, maintaining a wildfire-resistant roof, or installing double pained windows on a home.

"It can cost $1,000, $2000, I've heard as much as $5,000 to clear the defensible space depending on how heavy the brush is," said Butz, also the president of the nonprofit Fire Safe Council of San Diego County.

"So if you can get a savings somewhere else, me as a homeowner, I can tell you that makes it easier to get this work done."

That's the idea behind a new three-pronged program through the state insurance commissioner called Safer from Wildfires.

If businesses and homeowners fire resists their properties with things such as proper roofing or windows and clear defensible space, they can get discounts on their insurance. And the more of their neighbors who do the same, the bigger the discount can be.

"Homes and businesses need insurance they can rely on, and the ultimate goal for our effort is to protect consumers by reducing that wildfire risk in their communities," said state insurance commissioner Ricardo Lara.

Additionally, the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County offers free wood chipping services, and also has grants available for defensible space clearing to qualifying households.

The state recently launched a separate grant program for home improvements in Dulzura, expanding to Potrero and Campo in coming years.