Safeco Survey Results Stress Need for Personal Responsibility In Wildfire Defense

Jun 04, 2003, 01:00 ET from Safeco Insurance

    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: )
     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
 the nation.
     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:
     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

SOURCE Safeco Insurance