FIRE Act Sponsors Celebrate House Passage of Their Legislation to Improve Federal Wildfire Disaster Response

November 17, 2022

Washington, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) – Chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation – Mike Thompson (CA-05), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) celebrated House passage of their bill, the FEMA Improvement, Reform, and Efficiency (FIRE) Act.

The FIRE Act will update the Stafford Act that governs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to improve its wildfire preparedness and response programs such as by looking at pre-deployment of assets during times of highest wildfire risk and red flag warnings and by increasing equity and consistency across multiple FEMA assistance programs. In September, the Senate passed a version of the bill, sponsored by U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).

“Climate change is accelerating, and our policies need to keep pace so communities can withstand the worst of its impacts – like the devastating wildfires my district has been battling year after year,” said Rep. Huffman. “Today’s vote on our FIRE Act is an important step towards reaching that goal. This bill will help FEMA evolve their practices to respond faster and prioritize the needs of impacted communities and survivors, while improving partnerships with tribal governments. The climate crisis isn’t waiting, and I hope to see the Senate take this up again and get it to the President’s desk as soon as possible for the health and safety of our communities.”

“Wildfires present a unique and increasing danger in California and across the country. Congress must ensure all federal agencies and statutes are set up in ways that best support our communities as they prepare for and respond to deadly fires,” said Rep. Lofgren. “Wildfire assistance should not be treated as less important than hurricanes, tornadoes or floods, and our bill importantly improves and brings parity to FEMA’s efforts by focusing on disaster-specific needs. Passage of this bill is part of a whole-of-government approach to better prevent and respond to destructive wildfires.”

“The FIRE Act advancing in the House today will ensure that our state and country are better equipped to prepare for and respond to the imminent threat of wildfires each year,” said Sen. Padilla. “Protecting our communities from destructive wildfires is a bipartisan issue that requires the complete coordination of all levels of the government. I thank my colleagues in Congress for understanding the importance of providing the necessary resources for our communities to face the threat of wildfires every year, and I look forward to sending the FIRE Act to the President’s desk as soon as possible.”

“California remains on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and as wildfires and drought continue to threaten to our communities, we must ensure that we have the resources we need to efficiently prepare and respond to disasters,” said Rep. Thompson. “The FIRE Act will help us provide a robust response to wildfires, pre-deploy resources before potential disasters, and improve equitable disaster assistance. Proud to work with leaders such as Reps. Lofgren, Huffman, and Panetta and Senator Padilla to ensure FEMA’s disaster preparedness can fully address wildfires and the communities they impact.”

“As the American West continues to endure record drought, we will continue to be threatened by catastrophic wildfires,” said Rep. Panetta. “The FIRE Act would help meet that threat by reviewing expansion of eligibility for relocation assistance to fire-prone areas and allowing FEMA to proactively deploy its resources during red flag warnings. Such critical measures will allow FEMA to provide timely, efficient, and necessary disaster preparedness that is so deserved and needed by our vulnerable communities.”

Click here to view or download full text of the House-passed FIRE Act.