As Washington State’s fire season begins, Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) is proud that her amendment on the fair transfer of firefighting equipment passed out of Committee today as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. Rep. Schrier partnered with Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) on the amendment.
“Wildfires in Washington State have been increasing in intensity and scale every year for the last few years and our state and local fire departments are being called upon to respond like never before,” said Rep. Schrier. “I was disappointed to learn that the federal system of transferring fire equipment from the Department of Defense (DoD) to states does not take need into consideration. I will continue to partner with Rick and our delegation to assist Washington State’s brave men and women who are saving lives, land, and property during wildfire season. Ensuring they have access to the equipment they need will go a long way in accomplishing this important goal.”
The Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) is a DoD program that loans U.S. Forest Service-owned property to State foresters for wildland and rural firefighting. The Firefighter Property Program (FFP) is another DoD program that transfers excess property for firefighting and emergency services. After this equipment is transferred from DoD to state forestry agencies, the equipment is made available to local fire departments. Right now, FEPP and FFP equipment is claimed on a first-come, first-served basis and there is no consideration of need or wildfire threat. Reps. Schrier and Larsen’s amendment requires DoD and the United States Forest Service (USFS) to assess FFP and FEPP implementation, training, best practices, and equipment distribution. DoD must then provide a report on its findings and any recommendations to more equitably and meritoriously improve firefighting and emergency service capabilities.
“As the threat of wildfires increases, communities at the greatest risk must have equitable access to firefighting and emergency equipment,” said Rep. Larsen. “I am thankful for Rep. Schrier’s leadership to ensure that as wildfires get worse, equipment is distributed according to risk and need.”
The above is a press release from the office of Rep. Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-Issaquah, 8th CD). The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable.