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Home Insurers are Now Sending its Own Firefighters

When Western wildfires consumed parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon last summer, it surprised many Americans to see private crews deployed by home insurance companies on the scene alongside federal, state and local firefighters.While the roughly 260 private fire suppression units across the country make up less than 5 percent of the nation's firefighters, their ranks grew by 12.5 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the marketing research firm IBISWorld. Researchers expect the number of private firefighters to jump from just under 17,000 to more than 27,000 by 2017.Where there's smoke, there's an insurerInsurers such as Chubb and USAA offer fire defense to insured homes in and near fire-prone wildlands at no additional cost to their homeowners."As more and more people build permanent, primary, and in some cases multimillion-dollar homes, in higher-risk wildfire areas, insurance companies are going that extra step," says Carole Walker, executive director of t...

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