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Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Bills target wildfire response redesign, bolstering resources

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U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) spearheaded a bicameral effort detailing the FIRE Act and the Disaster Equity and Fairness Act — two bills that address federal wildfire response redesign and efforts to bolster resources when such outbreaks occur.

The FIRE Act establishes a series of Stafford Act amendments involving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) governance, ensuring the agency’s disaster preparedness and response comprehensively addresses the wildfires and their impacts on communities.

Meanwhile, the Disaster Equity and Fairness Act would focus upon FEMA’s disaster preparedness and response targeting the needs of underserved communities, emergency food and water needs following a disaster, in addition to the impact of consecutive disasters on communities.

“The climate crisis is now a daily reality for communities across California,” Padilla said. “Extreme weather events and natural disasters, especially wildfires, are the new normal, and they threaten our homes, businesses, and livelihoods year in and year out. I’ve seen the very real human and economic costs of these disasters throughout our state, and it is clear that we need to change our approach.”

Lofgren said the ongoing fire season is devastating communities in California and across the West. Congress must ensure all federal agencies and statutes are set up to support communities preparing for and responding to deadly fires.

“Wildfire assistance should not be treated as less important than hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods, and these proposals would improve and bring parity to FEMA’s efforts,” Lofgren, chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, said.
“I’m proud to join Sen. Padilla in making sure FEMA operations and policies reflect the unique nature of wildfires.”