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Wildfire defense systems: Our Partnership

Homeowners Fire Protection with Wildfire Defense Systems

When you buy a home, it’s as much an achievement as it is an investment — and you want the best possible protection for it. That means knowing your risk factors and planning ahead. For homeowners in the United States, especially the western half of the country, that's likely to involve wildfire preparation.

To help with that, we've partnered with Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc. (WDS) — a leader in wildfire risk management and response. They will offer their proven suite of wildfire prevention, mitigation and post-fire suppression services to our homeowners insurance customers in certain areas. *

Note that WDS isn’t a replacement for your local fire department; instead, they work a step ahead. Their mission is to prepare your home and limit losses as much as possible.

The best part? You don’t have to do anything extra to receive WDS wildfire services! The new Wildfire Defense Services endorsement will be automatically added to American Family Insurance homeowners insurance policies at no extra charge for our customers in select states. **

To put it another way, you’re getting even more coverage for your dollar!

Why You Need Wildfire Protection

With drought conditions affecting the west, wildfire season can span much of the year. In fact, over the last decade, an average of 63,000 fires burned each year, consuming 7.5 million acres in the process.

All it takes to set a firestorm in motion is a tiny, often accidental spark.

Having a fire prevention and evacuation plan in place ahead of time is crucial. If you live in an area prone to these fires, you may already know all too well how quickly they can spread. When a threat approaches, there’s often little time to react and prepare.

Let’s look at how WDS's response services work to help better prepare your home’s defenses.

How Do Wildfire Defense Services Work?

With so much on the line, it’s crucial to have a total fire protection plan in place before you need it.

Before danger arrives, WDS may deploy a crew of fire protection contractors to you. The team will check for any combustibles in and around your home that could fuel a more intense fire. They'll assess risks to your property and help get it prepared for a fire event.

First steps

To start, they’ll rake leaves and clear the area of any debris and accelerants. This includes things like:

  • Dry grass in your yard
  • Leaves in your gutter
  • Fallen leaves and debris on your roof
  • Firewood along your home
  • Wooden patio furniture
  • Gas cans
  • Propane tanks
  • Cleaning supplies

These fire protection services help before a firestorm heads your way. By removing that pile of leaves and storing chemicals in a safe place, they can help keep fire from intensifying around your home.

As threat approaches

At this point, the WDS rapid fire protection crew may take elevated measures to defend your home. *

This can include covering it with a special Class A fire-resistant foam or gel. The non-toxic, fire-retardant gel creates a protective layer that can last for hours. It’s made of about 98% water and used on all types of trees and vegetation.

They may also add temporary home fire sprinklers to help halt an advancing fire. Home fire sprinkler systems are a wonderful way to keep fires contained in a short amount of time. Residential fire sprinkler systems can coat the nearby area or douse a burning house. Along with that, they may set up a portable water supply to battle any approaching flames.

After the fire

Did you know that fire damage to homes can occur after wildfires have swept through?

Once the threat passes and it’s safe to come back, the crew may return to manage the situation. They’ll attempt to put out nearby hot spots and smoldering areas that pose a fire risk to your property. This crucial step can further protect your home from considerable damage.

When it comes to cleaning up, WDS takes care of that too. Through a simple washing process, they’ll remove any non-toxic gels or chemicals used. They'll collect any physical barriers or fire-blocking tape and return any moved furniture.

Clearing combustible debris off your roof and gutters

By clearing gutters and roofs of debris, WDS helps to decrease the risk of wildfire embers igniting a fire there.

Clearing your property of combustible items

In addition to moving combustible furniture out of harm’s way, WDS specialists will clear fuel away from structures.

Spray fire retardant around your property

Specialist may spray fire retardant foam and gel onto and around structures — offering a physical layer of fire protection.

Installing of temporary sprinkler systems

WDS specialists may set up water sprinkler systems to help halt an advancing wildfire near your structures.

Sealing of vents and openings to home

By closing off roof vents and exposed areas of your home with fire blocking tape or other materials, your home can be safer from wildfires.

Installing of portable water tanks

Setting up portable water tanks in advance allows WDS specialists to collect large amounts of water to battle an approaching wildfire.


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What Is the WDS Process?

Wildfire Defense Systems can provide a wide array of services to help protect your home. Here’s a deeper dive into the work they may take on — to help keep your home for safe.

Non-destructive fuel mitigation around the property

One key pillar in protecting your home from wildfires is in the reduction or elimination of organic fuel and other combustible items that might ignite if embers from a fire were to come into contact with them.

Although WDS won’t typically cut down trees near your property, they will remove pine needles, dead leaves, wood mulch and other debris that pose a fire risk to your home. Their specialists may also remove combustible items and debris from your roofs and gutters.

Removal of combustible items around your home

WDS may also move exterior materials like patio furniture, umbrellas and propane tanks to safer locations — if these items are situated close to your home. These may include:

  • Firewood
  • Pine needles
  • Leaves
  • Wood patio furniture
  • Flammable items like propane tanks and gas cans

Sprinkler system set‐up

WDS may deliver and set up portable water tanks, pumping apparatus, and sprinkler systems around your home. After initial setup, they may return later to verify the system is working correctly. These systems spray water on and around the home to decrease the chance of ignition.

Sealing non‐mechanical home vents

By preventing windblown embers from entering into exposed areas of your home — like the soffits, ridge line, gable ends, and attic vents — the risk of fire on your property can be reduced.

Normally, these passive airflow systems allow outside air to circulate in the attic or crawlspaces of a home and help to remove moisture. But during wildfires, those openings can allow embers into the interior of your home where fires can start. If these vents can’t be closed mechanically, WDS specialists will apply fire resistive tape or other materials to prevent the entrance of windborne embers into vulnerable areas of your home.

Application of fire‐blocking gel and/or retardant

In some cases, WDS may mow and remove tall grass around your home to create a “vegetative firebreak,” if needed. They may also spray a fire-retardant foam to slow or stop the spread of wildfires around the perimeter of your home.

Fire blocking gel is a non-toxic, fire-preventing and heat-absorbing Class A fire-retardant gel that WDS may use to help protect your home and property. The gel adheres directly to a house or structure and can help to quickly extinguish any flames or burning materials that come into contact with the gel.

By creating a gelled water barrier, it effectively helps protect a home or structure for several hours — and may prevent a home or structure from ignition. The gel can be rehydrated to extend its use. Although used as a last resort when fighting a fire, fire blocking gel is proven to be effective because it adheres to smooth surfaces, such as glass, in addition to other common homebuilding materials.

Protecting structures from post‐fire threats

Did you know that more than 50 percent of fire damage to homes occurs after wildfires have initially swept through? In the wake of a wildfire, WDS may return to your home — once it’s deemed safe to do so.

They’ll attempt to extinguish nearby hot spots and smoldering areas that pose a fire threat to your property. This important step can further protect your home from significant damage.

Returning to Clean Up and Restore Moved Items

After the wildfire threat has passed, WDS crew will return to your home to remove the fire-blocking gel. This is done by using a light washing process with water. The gel is safe for homes and the environment: it’s made of about 98% water and can be used on all types of trees and vegetation.

They’ll also remove fire-blocking tape and other physical barriers they’d previous installed. The crew will then return furniture and other combustible items that were moved earlier.

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Wildfire Defense Systems FAQs

You may have questions about how WDS operates — we’ve got your answers:

Wildfire Defense Systems FAQs

  1. Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) is the largest insurance wildfire response service in the nation and specializes in wildfire education, loss prevention and wildfire response services. WDS has operated under contract with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) — providing wildfire suppression services.

    WDS has also been commissioned by insurance companies to provide wildfire prevention and mitigation services for their customers.

    You can learn more about WDS by visiting their website at www.wildfire-defense.com

  2. The main goal of WDS is to provide a proactive layer of fire prevention and mitigation — that may operate as a supplement to local, state and federal first responders — to help keep your home safer from wildfires.

  3. Customers with a qualifying American Family Insurance homeowners policy in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and Washington are eligible for the service.

    American Family will continue to evaluate the benefits of this service and may offer WDS’s services to additional, wildfire-prone states in the future.

    The service is not currently available for condos, renters or manufactured homes.

  4. No. The service is provided at no additional cost and there is no discount for enrolling. Be sure to reach out to your agent or call us at 1-800-692-6326 to learn more or to opt-out of the endorsement.

  5. Fire blocking gel is a non-toxic, fire-preventing and heat-absorbing Class A fire-retardant gel that WDS may use to help protect your home and property. The gel adheres directly to a house or structure and can help to quickly extinguish any flames or burning materials that come into contact with the gel.

    It creates a gelled water barrier that effectively helps protect a home or structure for several hours — and may prevent home or structure ignition. The gel can be rehydrated, as needed, to extend effectiveness. Although it’s used as a last resort when fighting a fire, fire blocking gel is proven to be effective because it adheres to smooth surfaces such as glass in addition to other common homebuilding materials.

    Once the wildfire threat has passed, the gel is removed. This is done by using a light washing process with water. The gel is safe for homes and the environment; it’s made of about 98% water and can be used on all types of trees and vegetation.

  6. Fire retardant is a non-toxic, fire-preventing substance that Wildfire Defense Systems may use to help protect the home and property. The fire retardant may be applied to combustible materials and vegetation that surround a home or structure.

    Used as a last resort when fighting a fire, the fire retardant can help to slow or halt an advancing wildfire.

    Once the wildfire threat has passed, the fire retardant is removed, typically using a light washing process with water. There may be residual fire retardant left on vegetation after cleaning that will safely biodegrade over time. The fire retardant is safe for vegetation and the environment: it is about 90% water and can be used on all types of trees and vegetation.

  7. Keep your safety — and the safety of your family — top of mind and follow evacuation orders as they’re issued.

    If it’s safe, and you’ve got some time to prepare before you need to head out, take a look at our Wildfire Prevention Brochure for Your Home & Property to explore ways to help make your home safer.

    Also be sure to check out our online resources to help prevent fires in and around your home:


  8. If you need to report a claim, we’ve made the process simple. See our page on how to report a claim to get started.

Greater Peace of Mind; Zero Added Fees

Protecting what you work hard for takes proactive effort. There are steps you can take to help lessen the impact a wildfire makes in your life. While absolute fire protection may not be a possibility, you can rest assured you're a step closer with us.

For homeowners living in high-risk wildfire states, we're here to help. We’d love to discuss fire safety and the options available to help keep you and all that you work for protected.

Reach out to your agent or call us at 1-800-692-6326 to learn more.

If you'd prefer to opt out of the WDS endorsement, we can help with that too.

* WDS and Wildfire Defense Systems are trademarks of Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc.® Wildfire Defense Systems is a third-party supplier and not owned or operated by American Family Mutual Insurance Company S.I. or its Operating Companies. WDS offers no guarantee that wildfire prevention and mitigation efforts, when provided, will prevent damage from occurring. WDS is not a first responder and their services are supplemental to all other public wildfire responders.

** Effective May 1, 2021, American Family Insurance will add a Wildfire Defense Services Endorsement to all homeowners policies in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. This coverage is not currently available for condo, manufactured homes or renters policies. Additional states may be added subject to regulatory approval. The addition of this endorsement in your homeowners policy is not a guarantee of service; no promise is made that services will be provided. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. is not responsible for services provided by third-party suppliers.