District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

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District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers
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Mission Canyon house fire in 2018 (Photos: Mike Eliason / SBCFD)

By Lauren Bray, edhat staff

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley filed an enforcement action against Sun FireDefense for allegedly misleading consumers about their product's fire prevention effectiveness.

Dudley made the announcement Monday afternoon claims the "wildfire protection" company and its owner, James "Jim" Moseley, made false and misleading advertising claims about the effectiveness, environmental impact, and non-toxicity of its heavily marketed wildfire protection product, "SPF 3000 Clear Spray."

Dudley is seeking civil penalties of at least $5,000,000 in restitution from Moseley and Sunseeker Enterprises Inc., which does business as Sun FireDefense, for harmed consumers and a permanent injunction. 

Sun FireDefense markets the "SPF 3000 Clear Spray" product as a clear coating that can be applied to the exterior of a home to prevent it from catching fire and burning down, particularly in a wildfire. Their advertisements claim it “provides protection against heat and embers up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit,” is “effective for 5+ years after a single application,” was developed “through collaboration with NASA and the U.S. Forest Service,” is “non-toxic to humans or animals,” and uses “[t]he best eco-friendly fire protection materials.” Dudley claims these are false and misleading claims.  

In a statement to edhat, Moseley said his products work and although there is nothing that is fireproof, his products have been tested by multiple agencies and witnessed by seasoned fire officials. "We've helped save homes [...] and haven't had any complaints," he said. 

Moseley stated he has been and will continue to cooperate with the District Attorney as he also wants what is best for the consumer. "This is a huge responsibility for a company to do what we’re doing," he said while providing a video clip on the Discovery Channel showcasing a test of SPF3000 Clear Spray and a fire blanket that was designed for firefighters performed by Wildland Firefighters.

Jim Moseley (courtesy photo)

Additionally, Moseley provided copies of testing documents stating his products have a Class A rating, the most stringent rating available for building materials by the National Fire Protection Association. 

A 2018 report from the accredited Guardian Fire Testing Laboratories tested the SPF3000 Clear Spray to evaluate the ability of the product to limit the surface spread of flame when over 30 minutes, also known as the 30 min Tunnel Test. The product met the conditions to gain approval. However, according to the report, "This standard is used to measure and describe the response of materials, products or assemblies to heat and flame under controlled laboratory conditions. It should not alone be used for fire hazard or fire risk assessment of the materials, products or assemblies under actual fire conditions."

Another report was conducted in 2017 by the U.S. Department of Energy who tested the same spray on electrically-caused fires on wood telephone poles. The report concluded that while the treatment will not prevent electrically-caused pole fires, "it may limit the damage to the structure in some cases."

The last report by Turner MacLane Environmental Consulting, Inc. in 2018 used Test America Laboratories to test for Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) or residual heavy metals on wood samples treated with SPF3000 Clear Spray. The report concluded that the provided samples contained non-detect levels of VOCs. The heavy metal analysis reported trace levels of 7 of the 16 metals analyzed. None of the reported values exceeded Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs) or Hazardous Waste Concentrations established by California Regulatory Agencies or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dudley also announced Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has joined Santa Barbara County in the filing of these charges. She explained that several months ago she saw a television commercial about this product and felt it was a predatory company trying to take advantage of our communities’ fear of wildfires. She then contacted consumer protection prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Dalbey, who immediately began the investigation and ultimate prosecution.

“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.  If consumers falsely believe that their homes are protected from wildfires, when in fact their homes are not, those consumers could delay evacuation, placing their lives, the lives of their loved ones, and the lives of First Responders at great risk," said Dudley.   

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer stated, “In the wake of the devastating wildfires that have plagued the state recently, unscrupulous companies will inevitably surface and attempt to take advantage of Californians’ legitimate safety fears and fears of losing their homes and cherished possessions. Consumers should carefully evaluate the advertising claims made regarding so-called ‘fire defense’ products.” 

KEYT News interviewed Sun FireDefense's consultant Will Spyrison in 2018 while they applied their SPF3000 product to a local home. “The likely hood of the house burning down is pretty minimal. If the house were to take flames, it will get some black on it but you can take a power washer and wash it off, but it is a lot better than having your house totally destroyed,” said Spyrison during the interview. The homeowner asked not to be identified.

Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Dalbey, along with Los Angeles Supervising Deputy City Attorney Christina Tusan and Deputy City Attorneys William Pletcher, Stephen Mayer, and Rebecca Morse, all of the City’s Consumer Protection Unit, are litigating this matter in the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County. The full complaint is below.

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I know Fire Aug 08, 2019 11:24 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

She’s not shaking down anything. The product is being falsely advertised, it doesn’t block 3000 degrees of heat, he never worked with NASA, stucco does not need his snake oil, he says he’s a 3 time Grammy nominated artist, a search of the Grammy website says otherwise, if his clients are happy it’s because they believe his BS, his supposed saves on his website are just editing and camera angles, his test he says he past are for Interior Surface Finish Flame Spread...... NOT Exterior Wind Driven Wildfire that’s like comparing an apple to a zebra.

RHS Aug 06, 2019 11:44 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

What part of it fails the definition? Just compete and let the customer decide. If you are a con artist they will not use your product/service. If they fail to get a good vendor it is their lack of diligence. Caveat emptor (the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of goods before a purchase is made) and stuff like that.

Zenyatta19 Aug 06, 2019 10:08 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

This is a scam and most people can figure that out. If this really worked, every insurance company and Fire Dept would make it mandatory for homes in high fire hazard areas. This product has not been endorsed by the National Fire Association or the other groups as the company claims. The samples sent to the DA had toxic chemicals. This is all false advertising, which is illegal. In this case praying on fear and giving false hope could endanger lives. I receive glossy advertisements every month in the mail from this company. Two of my elderly neighbors were interested. I spoke with several Fire Captains who said there is no proof this product does anything to increase the potential of a home surviving a wildfire. So yes the DA is justified.

a-1568621789 Aug 06, 2019 11:39 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

Fine, it's false advertising. But why does OUR district attorney have to persecute the company? She could have issued a press release warning potential customers from the scam. She could have let another DA take the lead. She could have ignored it. But instead, after "seeing an advertisement on TV" she hired an outside expert to conduct testing, told staff to prepare the action, organized the press conference, coordinated with local fire employees to be at the press conference, sent PR to news organizations, etc., etc. It begs the question: why is Dudley doing this? As many have said, if it seems too good to be true, something isn't right.

a-1568621789 Aug 06, 2019 09:58 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

There are a variety of products for responsible homeowners to research, and then talk to local fire pros. After 2008 Tea Fire, a company promoted a building material that was fire retardant but not earthquake safe; another had a stucco product. DA needs to spend her time enforcing existing federal laws to uphold her oath of office to enforce US & CA Constitutions which she refuses to do. This frivolous case is another reason not to re-elect DA Joyce Dudley.

a-1568621789 Aug 06, 2019 09:55 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

This is a product sold nationally yet our SB County DA decides that she and her staff will take this company on, paying for experts to test the product, etc.? And Dudley conducts a full press conference with the requisite background of fire personnel in uniform (and on the clock?) Is this all about winning the case so that SB County gets a portion of the penalties? Anyone know what's *really* going on?

I know Fire Aug 06, 2019 11:20 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

As far as being sold Nationally, I’m sure Jim Moseley AKA “The Bone Man”, is willing to take your money wherever you live. It is only being heavily marketed in WUI areas of Southern California. I Applaud the DA for doing their do diligence on the product and protecting the Community she’s been sworn to serve. A quick YouTube search of Jim Moseley the Bone Man will show you this guys a self promoting Narcissist......maybe his Kaptain Bubble Gold Leather Jackets are Fire Proof too.....

Concerned4Calif Aug 06, 2019 09:08 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

It may just be semantics but the District attorney’s office declaratively states the defendant has “made false and misleading advertising claims” effectively putting District Attorney Dudey in the role of accuser, judge and jury by stating this accusation as a fact. It seems to me people are innocent until proven guilty and in order to recognize that truth, they should say “allegedly” made false and misleading advertising claims.

RHS Aug 06, 2019 10:26 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

What do you think a criminal charge is? It is a claim that the person is guilty of an enumerated crime. At this point the presumption of innocence comes in. People with any historic knowledge and an overview of our politics understand this. This is the way the system has worked for centuries. (And, by the way, what lawyers say in the court is privileged and not subject to civil claim.)

a-1568621789 Aug 06, 2019 09:16 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

It says she's "claiming" these are true but I agree with you. There should be more proof and investigative work before she makes this type of announcement. Additionally, these "tests" Moseley provided are not proof that his product works like he markets it. These are very small test samples that he has provided to these companies. And according to the article, the reports are not definite and say it might help and it could be useful in some cases. Not very conclusive.

salsa guy Aug 06, 2019 07:45 AM
District Attorney Sues Fire Protection Company for Allegedly Misleading Consumers

Wow, biz must be slow at the DA’s. Were there consumer complaints on the product? I guess to test the product you would have to try and set your house on fire. It seems there are multiple testing agencies that have said the product works with some qualifying their endorsements. Good to know that she is protecting consumers who MIGHT need protection in the future. Waste of time and money.

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