Insurance companies support South Lake Tahoe homeowners with flame retardant for their homes

Local News

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — Throughout the neighborhoods in and around South Lake Tahoe, trucks from All-Risk Shield are making house calls.

Crew members are providing an added layer of protection outside homes that had very close calls with the Caldor Fire. The crews’ assignment is to spray fire retardant on the vegetation surrounding the homes.

The service is provided as part of an agreement between the homeowners and their insurance companies.

Wes Bolsen is director of wildfire prevention and protection for Perimeter Solutions, the company that makes both the red fire retardant used by aircraft and the clear, home-application spray.

He came to supervise the spraying in South Lake Tahoe.

“They’ve done a nice job with the defensible space out from the home but obviously I’m still a little concerned about some of the ladder fuel,” Bolsen said.

The product Bolsen’s team is using is called Phos-Chek Fortify.

The fire-suppressing ingredient is phosphate, used in common garden fertilizers.

“It’s safe for pets, it’s safe for humans,” Bolsen said.

The product is designed to continue providing fire protection, even after some rain.

“One to two inches of rain, it’s still providing fire retardant effectiveness,” Bolsen said.

Bolsen said the more water-resistant formula was designed at Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it’s relatively new.

“This is the second real fire season it’s been tested and proven out on roadsides, with utilities, with insurance companies, like we’re here doing today, to protect homes, to prevent ignitions,” Bolsen said.

There are several service providers homeowners can hire to apply it.

“On the Phos-Chek Home Defense site, they can go and find a provider that serves in their area,” Bolsen said. “And even if your insurance company isn’t already providing it, you can take it in your own hands and treat your home.”

Perimeter Solutions is also working with local governments to have this product applied more widely.

“Along roadsides, interstate systems, Caltrans and the state of California, protecting where about 80% of the ignitions in the state of California are adjacent to a roadside,” Bolsen said. “You know, protecting communications towers. In the middle of an emergency, being able to protect a communications tower protects homeowners and first responders being able to communicate with each other.”

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