OLYMPIA…Constantly improving the technologies used to protect homes and businesses from wildfires can save lives and Washington’s rural economies, which is the goal of a bill sponsored by Sen. Randi Becker and signed by the governor Tuesday. It takes effect July 23.
Senate Bill 5198 was created in response to the 2015 fire season, which saw over 1 million acres burned across Washington. Wildfires have been devastating to land and economies and have made hundreds of families homeless while they rebuild their lives after losing everything. SB 5198 requires the state Department of Natural Resources to report to the Legislature information that will allow officials to use the best firefighting methods, products and technologies to protect Washington during future wildfire incidents.
“The best path forward in improving our response to wildfires is to have all the necessary information on which we can base future disaster-response planning. Advanced preparedness is so important to our safety and knowing where we stand now is the first step in determining what new methodologies we might need,” said Becker, R-Eatonville.
“Communities who have been and could be devastated by wildfires deserve the best in planning and preparation that we can provide.”
The reports from DNR are required to include:
- A complete list of long-term fire retardants used by the department and the criteria used in deploying them;
- A description of public outreach and education activities related to the use of fire retardants to protect structures during wildfires;
- An examination of how to update DNR’s policy regarding fire retardants;
- And, recommendations for legislative actions needed to improve the protection of structures from wildfires.