California fire station project on pause because it can’t get property insurance

Property insurance - Pause Button on Fire Station

The crisis in the state is largely from wildfires, but even those battling them can’t get insured

Wildfire risk is very high in many parts of California, leading to what many have called a property insurance crisis in both the residential and business markets.

Many insurers have withdrawn from selling

More recently, the size of the issue became particularly clear when a project to upgrade a fire station in the area stalled due to a lack of property insurance availability.

Property insurance - Fire fighter near wildfire blaze - California Flag

Homeowners living in California’s mountains face a particularly high wildfire risk.  To help mitigate that risk, fire stations need to be well placed, equipped and staffed. That said, Cal Fire recently found itself struggling to be able to move forward in the effort to achieve that goal when it couldn’t find fire insurance for the station it aims to upgrade.

The lack of fire coverage for property insurance of a firefighting station is standing out

Cal Fire’s Ishi Conservation Camp is located about 325 miles north of Fresno in Tehama County’s foothills. Those staying at the camp learn firefighting skills, then apply those newly learn skills to provide firefighting services to four of the region’s counties.

A State Senate budget committee recently learned from the Department of Finance’s Victor Lopez that the Ishi Conservation Camp has had to place its $11 million kitchen replacement project on hold because the location was unable to obtain fire coverage.

Fire insurance was unavailable due to the heightened risk in the area

“They weren’t interested in selling insurance policies in the region due to the perceived fire risk in the area,” explained Lopez.

Cal Fire’s next attempt to obtain coverage was to look to Fair Plan, which is a state program available to all property owners in California. That said, since the kitchen upgrade project on the fire station is being paid with bond money, Fair Plan wasn’t able to offer adequate coverage to meet the bond underwriter requirements.

“It really daylights the fact how messed up California is where we have a fire station that’s gonna have firefighters and train them and we can’t get fire insurance for it,” said Senator Brian Dahle, a Senate committee member.  “That’s how bizarre California is right now.”

Following the Senate committee hearing, property insurance companies reached out to Dahle saying that they might be able to help the project, and other property owners in the state, for that matter. 

“I’m gonna put them in contact with the Dept. of General Services and see if we can’t come up with a product to get the bonds moving,” said Dahle. “We need these firehouses to protect our communities.”

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