WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of their Fire Information and Reaction Enhancement (FIRE) Act, bipartisan legislation that would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a new program to improve wildfire forecasting and detection. This program would develop and extend accurate wildfire forecasts and warnings in order to reduce loss of life, injury, property, and damage to the economy. This program would include development, testing, and deployment of satellite detection products, grid-based assessments, and fire modeling systems.
“We’re seeing the increasingly harmful and destructive impact of wildfires in our communities all across the country, with 17 different large wildfires currently burning — particularly in the Western United States,” said Senator Rosen. “Firefighters and communities at risk in Nevada need better access to the most up-to-date and accurate wildfire forecast information. I’m grateful to Senator Lummis for partnering with me to introduce our bipartisan FIRE Act, which will ensure NOAA has the necessary resources to strengthen our wildfire tracking and prevention systems.”
“The people of Wyoming know firsthand the devastating effects of wildfires,” said Senator Lummis. “It is critical to provide our wildland firefighters and land managers the tools they need to actively track and combat potential wildfires before they get out of control. Focusing resources in NOAA, as this legislation directs, will do just that. I am proud to work with Senator Rosen on this bipartisan piece of legislation that will help make Wyoming, and the rest of the country, a safer place.”
BACKGROUND: Earlier this month, Senator Rosen wrote an op-ed column for the Reno Gazette-Journal on the urgent need to address the new normal for wildfires. She also co-sponsored the Federal Firefighter Fairness Act of 2021 and the Federal Firefighter Flexibility and Fairness Act, two bipartisan bills that would support federal firefighters by expanding eligibility for benefits and providing greater flexibility to manage their shifts.
In September, Senator Rosen co-sponsored the Wildfire Smoke Emergency Declaration Act, legislation that would allow the president of the United States to declare a “smoke emergency” when wildfire smoke creates hazardous air quality conditions.
In August, Rosen led fellow Western Senators in a letter urging Senate committee chairs to include funding for wildfire and drought prevention, mitigation, and relief measures in their respective sections of the forthcoming budget reconciliation legislation.
That same month, Rosen re-introduced with Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act, bipartisan legislation to support firefighter mental health. The bill would support efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect data on first responder suicides and direct HHS to develop best practices for identifying and treating post-traumatic stress and combating suicide among firefighters and other first responders. The HERO Act also would establish a grant program for peer-to-peer counseling programs to address mental health challenges for first responders.
The Senate-passed, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Senator Rosen co-authored, will increase salaries for firefighters and convert at least 1,000 seasonal firefighters to permanent, year-round positions. The bill also includes her amendment to add wildfires as a specified damage for which federal assistance from the National Highway Performance Program may be used to rebuild damaged highways.
Companion legislation to the FIRE Act, H.R. 5010, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA)