IAFC calls for Congress to take action on national wildland fire problem

Deputy Fire Chief Rich Elliott identified several policy recommendations for Congress and the Biden Administration

By FireRescue1 Staff

FAIRFAX, Va. — An IAFC representative testified at a U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing Tuesday, calling on Congress to act on the nation’s wildland fire problem

Rich Elliott – deputy chief for Kittitas Valley (Washington) Fire & Rescue and chair of the IAFC’s Wildland Fire Policy Committee – testified before the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to ask Congress to support FEMA programs that address the nation’s wildland fire problem. 

“Every state in the nation faces the threat of wildland fires burning through their communities. We must take comprehensive action to address this problem,” Chief Elliott said. “It will require cooperation between federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local agencies as well as the private sector and the general public.” 

Elliott identified several policy recommendations for Congress and the Biden Administration: 

  • FEMA should streamline the reimbursement process for Stafford Act declarations and Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) to ensure fire departments are reimbursed in a timely manner. 

  • The reimbursement process should be transparent, so that fire departments can track their reimbursements. 

  • FEMA should use the FMAG to fund the full footprint of a wildland fire regardless of whether it crosses jurisdictional boundaries. 

Elliott also highlighted the problems faced by fire departments in obtaining equipment and maintaining staffing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elliott concluded, “Without aggressive action, we can expect to see the severity of these fires increase as well as the cost to lives and personal property.” 

Read the IAFC’s full testimony (pdf) and watch the hearing here:

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