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The use of private firefighters is unethical

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The use of private firefighters is unethical

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2018 marks the worst year for California wildfires in history. With more than 30,000 homes and buildings destroyed and upwards of 100 lives taken, the destructive Camp, Woosley and Hill fires have been labeled the deadliest wildfires yet. They spanned over 18,000 properties, forcing the evacuation of several towns all along the West Coast.

The fire’s destructive was not only expansive but expensive. The amount of destruction caused by the Camp Fire totaled 1.3 billions of dollars for cleanup of debris, shown by Bloomberg. The properties of most families were destroyed, with cars and mementos scattered about in the damage.

However, some lucky people are protected from this massive inconvenience and distress, through private firefighters, which is controversial due to the fact that only the rich can access this amenity.

The latest public backlash against the use of private firefighters was towards celebrity power couple, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Fearing the strength of the recent Woosley fire, the West couple hired a team of private firefighters to protect their 50 million dollar mansion.

While the West’s mansion in Hidden Hills was secured against the flames of the California fires, locals’ houses were getting destroyed, for they cannot afford the luxury of private firefighters. Upon learning about this, the public took to Twitter to express the injustice of the West couple taking firefighting resources away from the general public for selfish interests.

In response to the backlash, the Atlantic shows that insurance companies like AIG and Chubb have openly talked about their private firefighting teams, saying that if consumers would like this access to this service, they merely need to find an insurer that provides it. Unfortunately, this system is still upper-class oriented since these private teams are not accessible to homes valued at less than one million dollars.

However, as a method of reciprocating to the community, various celebrities have donated to wildfire fighting foundations, including Kim Kardashian. Whether or not her act was in response to public outrage, she announced on the Ellen Show that on behalf of her, her husband and his Adidas Yeezy label, they would be donating two separate $200,000 donations: one going to the Wildfire Relief Fund and the other to the California Fire Foundation.

Junior Amina Haruna said, “Even if celebrities may think that it was an act of reciprocation, it doesn’t make up for the fact that they took away needed resources from the community. It may help later on, but it doesn’t help to alleviate the emergency at hand.” The West’s act of benevolence, while appreciated, does not bring back the properties that were already destroyed and could have been saved with an extra pair of helping hands.

“Everyone deserves the same level of security in a state emergency like that, no one deserves less safety than the other. Celebrities’ freedom to pull things like this pushes the rest of society’s needs to the back burner.” 

Junior Lucas Suzuki

No matter how insurance companies or celebrities try to justify it, private firefighters based on class are unfair. Junior Lucas Suzuki stated, “Everyone deserves the same level of security in a state emergency like that, no one deserves less safety than the other. Celebrities’ freedom to pull things like this pushes the rest of society’s needs to the back burner.”

While it is true that people may spend their money however they want, it is always important to think about the common good. Every single person has homes and mementos that their lives depend on– no one is lesser than the other.

Interested in responding? Submit your letters using this google form! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact [email protected] or reach out to Rebecca Huang, Shevani Tewari, or Ashley Ye directly!

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