What's Wrong With Private FireFighters?
I have read several articles criticizing residents of the California wildfires who have the means to hire private firefighters. Frankly, one would think that any firefighters who can save the homes, private or not, should be welcome but not when the people doing the hiring are (gasp!) wealthy:
That firefighting remains a bastion of public-goods provision might be precisely why private companies’ increasing involvement feels so controversial. “This isn’t a story of the kooky Kardashians doing things in the most publicity-friendly manner possible. It’s a story of the ramifications of economic disparity in this country. Frankly, I’m flabbergasted,” Greenberg wrote in an email. “Firefighters are consistently ranked the most beloved public servants, not just because they look good on calendars but because they treat everyone equally. Rich people don’t get their own ‘better’ firefighters, or at least they aren’t supposed to.”
In another article from the LA Times, Kim Kadashian describes how her house and others around it were saved by a private crew:
Kim Kardashian went on Instragram to thank firefighters for saving her Hidden Hills estate and told Ellen DeGeneres in an interview that she hired a private crew to protect her property.
"Our house is right on the end of a big park, so the whole park had caught fire and so if our house went, then every other house would go," she said. "I don't take that for granted, and that was such a blessing that we were able to do that."
Crews deployed by insurance companies don’t exclusively serve wealthy homeowners but also protect middle-class homes in rural areas, like those that were threatened during last year’s wine country fires and the Camp fire in Butte County this month, Torgerson said.
Even though Kim Kardashian not only saved her house but others, these bitter articles seem to imply that if you are wealthy, it's better to let your place burn down and everyone's around it because somehow you deserve it. The LA Times recent article also stated that public firefighters are not happy with the private ones, supposedly for "safety" reasons but so far, there have been no or few safety issues:
Ventura County Fire Capt. Brian McGrath said private fleets don’t coordinate well with incident commanders, can be a liability for firefighters on the front lines and can make their job more difficult. Though McGrath said he’s never personally encountered a situation in which a private firefighter needed to be rescued, he said having them in the field can be a hazard for professional crews.
The crews’ presence on major fires became a point of contention in 2008, which prompted Firescope, an organization that manages California’s Wildland Fire Incident Command System, to develop guidelines for how the private companies should operate.
Those standards, which include a provision for private fleets to check in with commanders so fire departments know where they plan to deploy, were formalized into law in a state Assembly bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.
“Our No.1 operation priority is always life safety,” McGrath said. “When we think an area has been evacuated and they’re in there, we’d have to go back and try to get them out. It’s a liability and safety issue.”