The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is encouraging Congress to support Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs to address efforts to combat nationwide wildfires.
IAFC personnel recently testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee.
“Every state in the nation faces the threat of wildland fires burning through their communities,” Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue and Chair of the IAFC’s Wildland Fire Policy Committee Deputy Fire Chief Rich Elliott said during the session chaired by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “We must take comprehensive action to address this problem. It will require cooperation between federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local agencies as well as the private sector and the general public.”
Elliott outlined a series of recommendations to aid FEMA in its wildfire combating initiatives, including streamlining the reimbursement process for Stafford Act declarations and Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to ensure fire departments are reimbursed promptly; FEMA using the FMAG to fund the complete footprint of a wildland fire regardless of whether it crosses jurisdictional boundaries; and FEMA adopting tools such as the IAFC National Mutual Aid System, to identify and deploy the closest resources to a fire emergency.
“Without aggressive action, we can expect to see the severity of these fires increase, as well as the cost to lives and personal property,” Elliott said.