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Wanted: Brave, Strong Homeowners With Hose Skills

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During the Malibu Canyon Brush Fire (November 2007), there was one incredible story of a plucky homeowner who battled the flames himself and then jumped into his pool with a scuba tank when things got really tough. Well, at a California firefighters' meeting yesterday, a program that would teach homeowners how to fight fires themselves was discussed, reports the Associated Press.

Modeled after a concept in Australia, where homeowners in rural areas fight fires on their own, the program would teach people how to make their homes more fire-safe and how to save their property if firefighters are unable to respond. It also would be up to individual fire agencies to adopt the policy. Fire officials who support the program said it's not meant to train people to replace firefighters, but rather to have them snuff out embers and other burning material that may land on a house before the flames arrive. The ideal candidate for the program would be someone who is physically fit; has cleared brush from around their home; has a stucco-walled home with fire-resistant roof tiles; and who has decided prior to the fire whether to leave or stay. There are some concerns, of course, that homeowners could do more damage than good if left to their own devices; the newswire cites the example of one "jittery" individual who accidentally blocked firefighters' access with his vehicle during a 1996 Malibu fire by trying to evacuate at the last minute. UPDATE: Originally we thought this conference happened in Burbank, but now it's not clear where the conference took place. [Pictured: Not a LA-area fire]
· Firefighters mull letting homeowners fight flames [AP]