House addresses increasingly dangerous wildfire seasons

OLYMPIA – The Washington House took major steps to address an increasingly dangerous wildfire season this week as Rep. Larry Springer’s HB 1578 passed unanimously through the House of Representatives. 

“Wildfire season continues to get worse,” said Springer. “The smoke lingers for weeks and causes health problems, it costs taxpayer money to equip our brave firefighters and smoke jumpers, and too many families live through the nightmare of losing a home or business. This bill puts systems in place to better plan, prevent, and respond to fires. The people of Washington deserve to have this issue addressed.”  

The bill requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) make assessments of areas at high risk for wildfire every 10 years, beginning July 1, 2025. DNR will also be required to work with local entities to devise evacuation plans and other public safety precautions and add them to emergency response plans. Additionally, DNR will partner with these local entities to incorporate smoke readiness into community resilience programs. The last piece of the legislation requires DNR to establish a Post-Wildfire Debris Flow program by July 1, 2024, and a structure for a state-sponsored burned area emergency stabilization and response team by December 30, 2024.  

“This is the world we’re currently living in,” said Springer. “Our fire situation is only going to get worse if we don’t act. These steps are crucial to addressing the fallout that most affects the everyday lives of residents.”  

The bill passed unanimously and now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

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