Deal Dive: VC interest in wildfire tech grows as world burns around us

Frontline is the latest startup to raise VC dollars with a $6.4 million seed round

forest fires, and damage they cause are a growing problem. The United States saw more than 66,000 forest fires It’s only in 2022, and while many think these natural disasters are largely a California problem, they’re burning across the country, causing millions of dollars in damage.

Harry Statter knows this because his entire career has focused on the intersection of the built world and natural consequences. In 2012, he was working at a forestry company that he founded and decided to investigate what causes buildings and structures to catch fire in a forest fire. He found that 90% of structure fires were the result of wind-blown embers, which can travel seven, and up to 24, miles from an actual wildfire. He decided to pivot.

“Active defense, by firefighters being on the property and protecting that structure, you just can’t scale the firefighters to the number of exposed structures,” Statter told me. “Also, firefighters are there for the safety of life, they are not there to protect private property. During the wildfires, they are facilitating a safe evacuation of people, they are not there to protect people’s homes.”

Statter founded Frontline, which builds outside sprinkler systems that use geospatial software to detect wildfires. If a home is within range, Frontline’s software will turn on the sprinklers and offer advice on what users should do next. Ten years later, the company has just raised a $6.4 million seed round led by Echelon and is starting to scale.

“We are growing very fast and we have seen a huge demand for our technology,” he said. “We are raising our round of Serie A because we are growing very fast.”

But Frontline isn’t meant to be a silver bullet, and there’s still a long way to go until there’s a comprehensive set of technology that helps users mitigate fire damage and better learn to live with it. But the foundations are beginning to be built for this to change.


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