This week I have the incredible opportunity to be on location with Jeremy Mueller from State Farm Insurance. We’re diving into a topic of utmost importance: the looming threat of wildfires this summer. As someone who hasn’t experienced a fire firsthand, I’m eager to learn about the precautions and insurance measures we can take to protect ourselves and our homes.
Jeremy and I both agree that fire insurance preparedness is often overlooked. Many of us may not even realize that our home insurance usually covers fire-related incidents. However, it’s crucial to double-check our policies because if fire insurance isn’t included, it’s definitely a cause for concern. After all, protecting our homes is one of the main reasons we invest in insurance.
Luckily, Jeremy reassures me that 99.9% of us probably have fire insurance included in our home insurance policies. However, he brings up an interesting point about the severity of the fire problem in Arizona. Some national carriers are choosing not to renew coverage for clients in areas like Desert Mountain and other northern regions due to increased fire exposure. This revelation surprises me because one would not typically associate Arizona with widespread fires. Nevertheless, it’s essential to consult with your insurance agency or company to ensure you have adequate coverage.
Jeremy explains that if you’re insured with a reliable provider like State Farm, you’re in good hands. Companies like his are well-prepared to handle the risks associated with fire-prone areas. In fact, they even offer provisions that go the extra mile, such as dispatching teams to spray fire retardant and clear out gutters in high-risk situations. While these measures are more common in northern regions, it’s essential for residents of Desert Mountain and Cave Creek to start considering them seriously, given the overgrowth and increased risk during the dry and hot summer months.
It’s crucial to recognize that while we may not face the same level of fire risk as California, Arizona is not exempt from potentially devastating fires. Even if our homes are not directly engulfed in flames, the smoke can cause significant damage. Smoke permeates the walls and can ruin our belongings, including artwork and personal items. Jeremy emphasizes the importance of understanding that smoke damage is a real concern and sometimes even more destructive than the fire itself. While a fire may destroy a structure completely, smoke lingers and affects us on a more personal and emotional level.
As our conversation progresses, Jeremy highlights the importance of reviewing our insurance policies regularly. It’s a good practice to check if our coverage aligns with our current needs, especially as we acquire new items over time. He urges everyone to familiarize themselves with their policy’s details, even if reading the entire booklet might be a daunting task. In a nutshell, Jeremy advises ensuring that the cost of building your home per square foot is adequately covered. With the rising costs of construction, it’s often more economical to buy a new home rather than rebuild one. Therefore, having sufficient coverage becomes crucial, particularly in the high-risk areas of northern Arizona.
Curiosity piqued, I ask Jeremy if he has witnessed any significant fires during his time in Scottsdale. He shares a memory from the late nineties when a severe forest fire near the Scottsdale Golf Club rendered the area unusable for many years. This anecdote serves as a stark reminder that fires can indeed occur in unexpected places and should not be taken lightly. Thankfully, individuals like Jeremy and his team at State Farm are always ready to assist in times of crisis. Their prompt response and dedication to their clients’ safety are truly commendable.
In addition to my conversation with Jeremy, I had the opportunity to interview Tiffany Davila from the Arizona Forestry about the upcoming fire season and the measures being taken to prevent wildfires in Arizona. Tiffany shared valuable insights into the current situation and the proactive steps being taken to mitigate fire risks.
Tiffany began by emphasizing that the potential for active fires is high in Southern Arizona and the central region due to the dry fuel in those areas. She explained that the fire season typically starts in late April or early May and continues until the peak of the monsoon season, which usually occurs in mid-July. It’s crucial for residents to be aware of these timeframes and take necessary precautions.
One significant point Tiffany stressed during our conversation was that the majority of wildfires are caused by human activities, such as chain dragging or other sources of sparks. Surprisingly, she mentioned that 65-80% of wildfires in Arizona are started by people. This highlights the importance of personal responsibility in preventing wildfires. We must all be mindful of our actions and take steps to minimize the risk of fire ignition.
We delved into the Firewise USA program, which Tiffany explained as an initiative aimed at engaging homeowners and communities in wildfire prevention. The program provides educational resources, home assessments, and tools for creating defensible space around properties. By actively participating in Firewise, communities can reduce the risk of wildfires and ensure the safety of residents and their homes.
Another program we discussed was the “Ready, Set, Go” program, which outlines the necessary steps to take in case of a fire. Tiffany explained that “Ready” refers to being prepared and maintaining situational awareness. This includes having an emergency plan, assembling a go bag with essential items, and staying informed about fire conditions in the area. “Set” is the pre-evacuation status, where homeowners should be prepared to evacuate if necessary, ensuring that their go bags are ready and evacuation plans are in place. Finally, “Go” means evacuating immediately when authorities issue an evacuation order to ensure personal safety.
While it’s challenging to predict the severity of the upcoming fire season, Tiffany mentioned that there has been a cyclical pattern in recent years. The increase in population and human interaction in the wildland-urban interface areas has led to more fire starts in previously unaffected regions. It’s crucial for residents to be vigilant, stay informed, and actively participate in fire prevention efforts.
In conclusion, my conversation with Tiffany highlighted the importance of wildfire prevention, community engagement, and preparedness in Arizona. By understanding the risks, taking preventive measures, and being proactive in our approach, we can help protect our homes, communities, and the beautiful natural landscape of Arizona.