The House of Representative passed Thursday an amended version of a Coalition-supported bill to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to review its fire mitigation, readiness, and disaster recovery programs.
Senator Alex Padilla, D-Calif., sponsors S. 3092 (Padilla), the FEMA Improvement, Reform, and Efficiency (FIRE) Act of 2022. The current bill maintains most of the supported provisions from its introduction.
The bill addresses discrepancies in federal response before and after wildfire events. If passed, it would require FEMA to review its response to wildfire and further examine factors of fire in damage assessments. The National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also collaborate with FEMA to develop a process to enhance pre-disaster preparation when fire weather is forecast.
The FIRE Act would also require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on gaps in FEMA’s programs and response related to wildfire compared to other hazard as well as an overview of the Agency’s overall effectiveness in responding to wildfire. GAO’s report would also include recommendations for FEMA to improve the assistance application process and to quicken the turnaround time on disaster assistance and grant programs.
Removed from the bill through the legislative process, however, was authorization to assist with of critical infrastructure located in high fire hazard locations, similar to projects eligible for relocation aid under the FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant. Instead, the bill would require FEMA to report on potential costs and benefits of expanding the relocation assistance programs.
The legislation will now undergo a resolving of differences between the two versions of the legislation, as amended in each chamber. NSDC will continue to track developments and report updates to Members. Contact Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director, for more information.