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Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

National Guard wildfire readiness assessment sought

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A group of lawmakers is seeking the National Guard’s assessment of wildfire readiness as a means of aiding states in preparing, fighting, and recovering from such occurrences.

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) recently joined legislative colleagues in forwarding correspondence to Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson regarding the request.

“As devastating fires of historic proportion continue to ravage the United States, we ask you to provide us an assessment of the National Guard’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and help state firefighting forces recover from wildfires,” the legislators wrote. “A frank estimation will help Congress address any gaps and use every resource available to respond to this year’s fires. It will also help us better resource and equip the Guard for a future in which human-driven climate change will make fire seasons increasingly severe and destructive.”

The request, per officials, included information on the availability of appropriately trained personnel and equipment for firefighting-related needs; an accounting of the capacity available through Emergency Management Assistance Compacts and whether expanding them may provide additional opportunities or wildfire capacity; and any National Guard Bureau plans or constructs developed with governors for a coordinated regional response.

“We commend all the heroic men and women of the National Guard who have been responding to raging wildfires as part of a federal, state, and local effort,” the senators concluded. “With a more complete understanding of the Guard’s ability to respond, we can ensure proper resourcing and will be better able to keep our Guard members always ready and always there.”