This Just In: Fire Fee Creates Controversy

No doubt that 2012 has been one of the most devastating years on record for wildfires in the U.S. But, having said that, a new fire protection fee has ignited anger amongst 800,000 California residents who own property in wildfire country.

The fee, which could run as much as $150 for a single occupied dwelling, has been imposed on those who own property within the 31 million rural acres of land covered by the California Department of Forestry.

The fire fee has the potential to raise an estimated $84 million in the first year alone for fire prevention efforts. However, red-hot resistance from rural Californians will likely lead to a lawsuit to overturn the surcharge.

Jeff Berino, Pie Senior Fire Investigator, weighs in:

“During recent years, the dollars at risk on single fire-related events can be in the hundreds of millions.  Public sector budget short-falls are putting increased pressure on resources for fire mitigation and wildfire suppression.  This has resulted in public agencies seeking suppression costs from at-fault parties on larger wildfires.  Additionally, some have argued that fewer resources for battling and prevention have resulted in the increased number and magnitude of wildland fire occurrences. Many insurance companies may already adjust their homeowners rates accordingly for those who live in interface areas. Is this too much? Moreover, the direct costs for suppression efforts alone in a large wildfire can run upwards of a million dollars per day, so it this fire fee really too much?”

Question: Is the California fire fee too much to ask? Should people living in tornado zones also have to pay a similar fee? What about folks on the east coast in hurricane areas?

Tell us your thoughts. Weigh in and reply here with a comment.


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