SEATTLE, June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a recent survey commissioned
by Safeco Insurance, more than eight of 10 respondents in three of the
country's top hotspots said they were concerned about the threat of wildfires,
but less than half were able to recall prevention steps they could take to
defend their property in the event of a wildfire. The combination of low
awareness levels of the defense steps and a longer-than-expected fire season
in 2003, make for a potentially dangerous year for fire officials and
homeowners alike in fire-prone areas.
(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030428/SFM037LOGO )
The wildfire awareness survey, conducted by The Gilmore Research Group in
the areas of Bend, Ore., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Denver, Colo., is part of
Safeco's ongoing commitment to fire prevention and homeowner defense. To raise
awareness of wildfire threat and defense measures, local fire officials across
the country have partnered with Safeco through the nationally recognized
"FireFree" program, which encourages community involvement, personal
responsibility and homeowner education on the steps consumers can take to
mitigate wildfire damage.
"Homeowners can make the difference between their home surviving a
wildfire or burning to the ground," said Gary Marshall, fire marshal for the
City of Bend, Ore. "We've learned that we simply cannot depend on firefighting
alone; we need to focus on prevention and personal responsibility. That's why
programs like FireFree are so important."
"While the survey confirms most residents in these high-risk areas are
concerned about wildfires, a large portion of residents are still not taking
the steps necessary to protect their homes from fire damage," said Rose
Lincoln, Safeco Community Relations director. Safeco is not only looking to
educate consumers in areas that have experienced wildfires, but also those in
areas that have not experienced wildfires but are at risk, she said.
Safeco's FireFree program, which was honored with a Golden Smokey Award
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, National Association
of State Foresters and The Advertising Council, Inc., in 1999, offers to local
fire agencies for distribution a detailed brochure and video explaining ten
effective ways to reduce residential forest fire damage. To date, more than
152,000 brochures and 745 videos have been requested and distributed around
FireFree Top Ten Wildfire Prevention Tips:
-- Define your defensible space.
-- Reduce flammable vegetation, trees and brush around your home.
-- Remove or prune trees.
-- Cut grass and weeds regularly.
-- Relocate wood piles and leftover building materials.
-- Keep your roof and yard clean.
-- Keep road signs, addresses and home access clear and visible.
-- Rate your roof -- is it fire resistant?
-- Recycle yard debris and branches.
-- Know what to do when wildfire strikes.
(For additional wildfire information visit: www.safeco.com/wildfire)
Wildfire disasters in 2002 constituted the second-worst fire season in
half a century (2000 was the worst). More than 74,000 wildfires charred 7.4
million acres across the United States last year. Present weather forecasts
don't promise any relief in 2003. El Nino brings not only warmer temperatures
and an early spring to the western United States, but an even longer fire
season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center's National Wildland
Fire Outlook for 2003.
Safeco, in business since 1923, is a Seattle-based company that sells
insurance and investment products through neighborhood-based independent
agents, brokers and financial advisors. Safeco supports and partners with
non-profit organizations that promote neighborliness by bringing people
together and enhancing local communities. More information about Safeco can be
found at www.safeco.com
SOURCE Safeco Insurance