SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley is pursuing legal action against a company that claims it can make homes fire-resistant.
Dudley held a news conference Monday and announced her office was filing an enforcement action against Sunseeker Enterprises, Inc., which operates Sun FireDefense. The company's owner, James Mosely, is also named in the filing.
At issue is the company's SPF 3000 Clear Spray product.
Dudley says the company made false and misleading advertising claims "about the effectiveness, environmental impact, and non-toxicity“ of the product.
The company maintains that its product works and can be used on the outside of a home to potentially prevent it from catching fire and burning down. It's advertised as being able to provide protection against heat and embers up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The company says the product works for more than 5 years and was developed as part of a collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Forest Service.
KEYT/KCOY/KKFX spoke with a fire consultant for the company back in 2018 who said the likelihood of a home burning down was minimal when using the product.
During the news conference Monday, Dudley said she had seen a commercial for the product on TV and that it "frightened" her.
"I was immediately concerned that this was a predatory company trying to take advantage of our communities' justifiable fear based upon the very real threat of wildfires," said Dudley. "Our consumers have a right to accurate marketing information, a right that becomes all the more critical when making crucial and life-saving decisions about how to defend their homes and loved ones. Given the staggering danger posed by wildfires, it is critical that California consumers receive truthful, accurate, and scientifically-validated information about fire prevention and protection products. Lives, homes, and our public's safety depend on it."
Dudley says she later contacted Deputy District Attorney Christopher Dalbey who is the county's consumer protection prosecutor. He then began an investigation into the company. The investigation involved taking a sample of the product and having a third party test it. Dudley says the investigation found the claims to be untrue and misleading as far as the effectiveness of the product.
Fire experts said at the end of the day, the best defense in the event of a fire is defensible space around your home and that there is no "silver bullet" for fire prevention.
"Many products out on the market today are used by fire agencies, specifically gel products but there’s a requirement to apply the gel in close proximity to the time the fire hits it or reactivating the gel. This is not such a product," said Mark Hartwig, Santa Barbara County Fire Chief.
Officials from Los Angeles are also involved and are pursuing the litigation in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
We reached out to Sun FireDefense and spoke directly with the CEO, James Mosely.
He said in part, "Our product works and although there is nothing out there that is fireproof, our products have been tested by multiple agencies and witnessed by seasoned fire officials, and we've helped save homes and haven't had any complaints. We have been and will continue to cooperate with the D.A. as we also want what is good for the consumer. This is a huge responsibility for a company to do what we're doing."
In a phone call, Mosely also said the company has tested the product with a third party, and that those tests were successful.
He also cited several testimonials and videos, which he says show that the product works.
The action seeks at least $5,000,000 in civil penalties, restitution for consumers, and a permanent injunction.
"I’m afraid that someone is going to buy this product, put it on their house and stay in their house just a little too long because they have the belief that their house is safe and suddenly there's a devastation to that family. So we really want to make sure the community understands that there is no such product," said Dudley.