Fire Marshall: New Fire Maps Won't Raise Insurance

Residents gathered Tuesday night to learn about new fire hazard maps drafted by state firefighters.

Will homeowners see a rate hike on their insurance if new state-issued fire maps are approved?

That's what residents asked the Orange County Fire Authority during an information meeting in the Saddleback Room of the Tuesday night.

Frustrated property owners from newly-designated high risk zones sat down to listen to the OCFA’s presentation on fire hazards. But after 20 minutes, several audience members voiced their impatience and expressed their concerns about rising insurance costs.

Earlier this month, city leaders postponed a vote to approve new state fire maps.

There's nothing to worry about, Fire Marshall Laura Blaul said.

“It’s not based on the maps,” Blaul said. “We talked with insurance companies, they say it’s not based on the maps.”

Several attendees shared their doubts about Blaul’s statement. One man called her statement “cow excrement.”

Blaul, Mayor Pro Tem and the City Attorney were in attendance trying to answer everyone’s questions, mainly trying to quell homeowners' worries that they would see their insurance coverage cost increase or even lose their policies.

Blaul said insurers don't care about the state's maps.

"They are looking at the risk criteria," Blaul said. "How much separation do you have from the brush? They are looking at a number of factors; roads, and distance from fire stations. They are not looking at the hazard maps. They said they have their own models."

Many property owners were not convinced. Some argued that Blaul's statement might not be true due to their inside knowledge on insurance companies. 

Blaul said that according to the state department of insurance, it is illegal for insurance companies to suddenly raise rates just because of new maps. 

The best thing the OCFA can do for the property owners according to Blaul is to help mitigation of property.

Several citizens suggested removing brush, trees, or any vegetation that could fuel brushfires. The idea is to show insurance companies that their homes are not as hazardous as the map suggests.

One citizen whose son-in-law is a fire captain said that to make this effort a success, the entire neighborhood has to be involved. If one house remains a hazard, it could put other houses at risk. 

J. Holden March 01, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Woos Peter but Cathy Schlicht was there also-- but since your outfit does not like her you give her o props.
Peter Schelden March 01, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Hi J., thanks for dropping by. Not true at all. We had a young reporter out there, and he scanned the audience for city council members and other officials like I asked him to, but apparently Cathy slipped his notice. Thanks for bringing her presence to our attention for a fuller story. Do you know if she spoke at the meeting?
Peter Schelden March 01, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Also, as far as any supposed bias against Cathy, I've published entire, unedited letters from her before, and would be happy to do so in the future: http://patch.com/A-hWr8. I believe our political coverage of Cathy and the rest of the council has always been fair. If you disagree, I challenge you to prove it.
Jholden March 03, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Peter, Cathy spoke three times and identified herself. You need to " school" your Rockies. She was also thanked by three different speakers--so you should not offer up challenges you can not win! Did you call Cathy--not!
Peter Schelden March 03, 2012 at 05:45 AM
Thanks, J. If you think I've not given Cathy a fair shake in an article, please show me where, in a personal message. If you have something to say about the recent meeting, by all means please publish it here. Furthermore, if you're concerned that your political opinions are not represented here, just say the word and I'll make you a Patch blogger. You can sign up here: missionviejo.patch.com/blog/apply


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