From firefighting to insurance, Bart Baker does it all

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It’s one thing to be told there are always two sides to a story, but it’s another to actually experience them. Bart Baker can attest to that. The retired firefighter and current insurance agent has gone from preventing accidents to cleaning up their aftermath, all in Malibu.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Baker spent 20 years with the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a firefighter and engineer, most of which were spent in Malibu at Stations 67 and 71. Simultaneously, he worked as an insurance agent with Farmers Insurance for 23 years.

“When I was doing both jobs, I’d be at incidents of car crashes and fires and then I’d be in the office the next day when the claims were filed,” Baker said. “It’s interesting. I was on the other side of the fence in the Fire Department trying to prevent disasters, and now I’m helping people put their lives back together.”

A herniated disk in 2002 led Baker’s retirement from the Fire Department, an experience he calls “bittersweet.” Now that he is able to focus all his time on insurance, Baker and his agency have made top honors ever since his retirement.

“I missed the camaraderie of the Fire Department, but I loved my insurance company,” Baker said. “I’d wake up in the fire station and put on a suit for work. My wife, Wendy, would run it [the insurance business] while I was at Fire Department.”

Bart and Wendy moved to Malibu after marrying in 1979. After initially selling health insurance, they created B.W. Baker Insurance Service Inc. (the “W” stands for Wendy) in 1985 as a result of increased inquiries by Baker’s clients about insurance for other assets such as cars. B.W. Baker Insurance Service, an affiliate of Farmers Insurance Group, focuses on asset and home protection in areas with high risks of fires, floods and earthquakes, and has operated out of its Point Dume office for 22 years.

Baker calls it “lifestyle protection.”

“I met the district manager who trained me for Farmers, and after 90 days was the number one agency in his district, and have been ever since for 23 years,” Baker said. “We’re a President Council Agent with Farmers, which puts us in the top one percent in the nation.”

Baker’s list of achievements is lengthy but diverse, and is evidence of how his personality has determined his work ethic. Though he has been dubbed District Agent of the Year, and has earned the Leadership Award Agent and Top Dog Promotion (to name a few), most Malibu residents are quick to recognize him as a helping hand in the November 2007 fire and who, at the height of the Santa Ana wind-driven flames, helped one of his customers save his home.

In addition to cycling, wine collecting and spending time with his family, which includes his three children Brian, 23, Amber, 29, and Jamie, 34, Baker’s future endeavor is expanding his agency.

“I’m now viewing our agency holistically,” Baker said. “This year we have opened a financial services department and have partnered with a local trust attorney. We are helping our clients with the proper transferring of their assets to the next generation in the most tax-efficient manner.”

In the meantime, staying involved in the community, whether through lending a helping hand fighting fires, or servicing insurance, is a top priority for Baker.