Understanding Pacific Palisades’ Fire Risk
As most of us know, Pacific Palisades is in what the State Fire Marshall has designated as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. Properties and structures within such areas are at greater risk, and residents have been advised to take proactive measures for wildfire preparedness and mitigation to reduce the risks. These measures include clearing vegetation, creating defensible space, and using more fire-resistant building materials to improve the overall safety of homes in these high-risk areas.
Earlier this year local fire department personnel checked all properties in brush areas to identify which clearly had too much vegetation and issued notices for the owners to comply with clearance regulations. They then sent crews to where owners had not taken action, did clearance, and invoices were sent to the owners.
There have also been some special presentations, webinars and local meetings on fire safety and actions that property owners can take to lessen their exposure to wildfires. These include many time-tested and recent fire-experience lessons and resources that are of inestimable value to property owners.
Up until now, however, there has not been a systematic and comprehensive way to know how much risk any particular property might have, relative to the other properties in such areas. Similarly, specific site risks and recommended actions often might require a professional fire expert to personally come out to assess and advise about what actions would be recommended.
Mitigation Recommendations and Potential Insurance Benefits
The new “Wildfire Disclosure Report” has been designed and created to go beyond the usual visual assessments. FortressFire is the source of this new tool which was developed by a diverse group including scientists, insurance experts, and fire management professionals. In their words, “We understand the complex, chaotic nature of fire and how the inability to precisely model and quantify that threat at the individual property level has disrupted the property insurance market…today’s technology can enable practical, effective preparation strategies and mitigation services at scale to protect…properties…”
They use satellite imagery and AI to identify property-specific vulnerabilities and fuels that pose risk. This includes specific trees and the roof and wall materials of structures on the property. Their system gives suggestions of specific actions that will help mitigate each of the identified risks, estimates costs of those actions, and may result in insurance discounts once certification of mitigation has been completed.
The “Vulnerability Score” indicates where and how a structure might ignite. It includes convective heat (flame touching), radiant heat (the energy of heat), ember entry (through wall vents), ember accumulation (on roofs and in gutters), and from another structure.
How the Report Benefits Property Sellers and Buyers
While this report is recommended to help sellers and buyers become better informed of wildfire and insurability risks, it is not legally required nor does it replace other required disclosure reports in the process of a real estate transaction. It can be ordered by either party during an escrow, or anyone can purchase it directly through FortressFire. If a seller obtains a report, it would need to be disclosed to prospective buyers as it would include known material facts. We have been told that the reports most likely will be valid for 3 to 5 months, depending on the age of the aerial imagery.
This report is only available for properties in California and is not related to the required defensible space disclosure and compliance documentation that has been required for property transfers since July 2021.
They are now being distributed by a few disclosure companies, as well as any escrow officer during a sale process. The regular price is $140.00. Contact our office for details of some sources if you would like to purchase the report for your property. We can be reached at: Michael@ edlenteam.com.