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On Your Side: Home sprinkler system offers protection from wildfires

On Your Side: Fire-prevention sprinklers offer home protection
On Your Side: Fire-prevention sprinklers offer home protection 03:57

More than 2.3 million homes in California are directly exposed to wildfire danger, according to the U.S. Forest Service. A new technology can help keep your property safe. And the creator says they haven't lost a single home to fire once it's been installed.

With two big-name insurance companies backing out of the marketplace in California due to wildfire risk, homeowners are scrambling to protect their investments.

One option is pricey. But the creator says it's the best defense in a raging wildfire.

When the Woolsey Fire surrounded Todd Greenbaum's Agoura Hills property, he thought his family home was going to go up in flames. He snapped photos of his land after the fire moved through.

"Fires have come near the home occasionally, but never super, super close for several years before the Woolsey Fire. But the Woolsey Fire was just a volcano, essentially, here, and it was quite frightening," said Greenbaum.

Shortly after the fire, Greenbaum's homeowner's insurance company dropped him. With his new coverage, he now pays seven times what he did when he moved into the home in 2010.

"Because of the problems that we've had, we had one policy, and now we have to buy five different policies," said Greenbaum.

Worried that insurance coverage and brush clearance alone wouldn't be enough to protect his investment, Greenbaum decided to install a fire defense system that protects the home by soaking it with both water and firefighting foam.

"It provides protection on the structure extending to 30 feet off the walls of the structure," said Frontline Wildfire Defense Founder and CEO Harry Statter. "So, it's a 'pre-wetting' system. It's basically creating an environment that's too wet to burn."

The system is triggered remotely by a software platform that uses weather data, satellite imagery and an algorithm to track and detect wildfires. Once the flames are within seven miles of a home, an app alerts the homeowner that the system is powering on unless they choose to override it.

We tested the system at Greenbaum's home.

"It looked like you just went through a thunderstorm, like rain everywhere," said Greenbaum.

Statter launched the company in 2019, and since then he says he hasn't had a loss yet.

"We currently have about $2 billion worth of property protected by Frontline systems," said Statter.

The majority of those properties are in California. But the system is pricey at about $10 per square foot installed. So a 2,000-square-foot home would cost $20,000 to protect with Frontline. Todd Greenbaum says it was worth the investment.

"Having it there is like a warm blanket. It makes me feel a lot better," said Greenbaum.

So far, Greenbaum hasn't seen his insurance come down now that he has Frontline installed. But California recently enacted new regulations that require insurance companies to offer discounts to homeowners and business owners who take steps to mitigate fire danger.

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