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Wildfire Bill Would Enlist ‘All of the Above’ Approach

The Modernizing Wildfire Safety and Prevention Act was introduced in a bipartisan effort and would help mitigate wildfires, use new technologies, solve the firefighter shortage and improve response times.

Crew members of the Little Tujunga Hot Shots walking down a trail.
Lebec, Calif., Sunday, June 16, 2024 - Crew members of the Little Tujunga Hot Shots hike to positions along Hard Luck Road to observe a burn out operation near Hungry Valley Road as the Post Fire continues to grow north of Pyramid Lake just west of Interstate 5. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Wildfire seasons in California and across the country are getting longer and more intense, and the matter is serious enough to garner bipartisan support for a congressional bill to address the crisis.

The Modernizing Wildfire Safety and Prevention Act, a sweeping package that enlists an “all of the above” approach to mitigating and fighting wildfires, was introduced by Reps. Josh Harder, D-Calif., Scott Franklin, R-Fla., and Joe Neguse, D-Colo., marking the first time the federal government has taken such an approach to fighting wildfires.

The bill calls for modernizing existing fire prevention efforts and directly meeting the needs of firefighters, experts and public health officials, including:
  • Combating firefighter shortages
  • Retaining expert wildland firefighters with better benefits and conditions
  • Improving response times with new technology, such as risk maps
  • Addressing the public health crisis caused by wildfire smoke
“As a father of a wildland firefighter, I’m pleased to join Reps. Harder and Neguse to modernize and innovate our approach to wildfire management,” Franklin said in a statement. “This comprehensive package will invest in new wildfire mitigation technologies and ensure permanent solutions to current and future workforce challenges.”

Harder has been working for a year on the bill, alongside wildfire experts, firefighting agencies and parties from both sides of the aisle.

“Last week a wildfire came within a mile of my home,” Harder said in the statement. “More than 14,000 acres burned, and 400 firefighters risked their lives to contain it. We no longer have a wildfire season in California — it’s a year-round crisis. We cannot wait another day to tackle this threat.”