DENVER, CO — The Wildfire Matters Review Committee today advanced five bills related to wildfire prevention and management. If approved by the legislature next session, the bills would improve quality of life for firefighters and take active steps to prevent and mitigate wildfires in the future.
“I’m proud of our committee’s work to advance bipartisan proposals that will help prevent wildfires and ensure we take care of the firefighters who are always ready to protect us when crises emerge,” said Committee Chair Rep. Marc Snyder (D-Manitou Springs). “We’re working to improve our fire fighting capabilities with solid, bipartisan policy proposals, and I look forward to continuing this critical work to make Colorado safer.”
“In wildfires and in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said committee member Rep. Lisa Cutter (D-Jefferson County). “Today the Wildfire Matters Committee took crucial steps towards wildfire prevention, readiness and management. I’m working hard to ensure that communities vulnerable to wildfires, like so many across my district, are better able to prevent and mitigate wildfire tragedies.”
“We’re coming close to the end of our wildfire season in Colorado,” said committee member Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon). “This is the best possible time to work to ensure that we’re prepared to prevent and manage wildfires across our state. Communities like mine know all too well how quickly a wildfire can turn into a devastating and tragic event.”
The committee proposals that advanced today are:
Modify Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program. The committee advanced a proposal to improve the Wildfire Risk Mitigation Grant Program by making the funds available to lower income communities and increasing the number of eligible recipients.
Sponsors: Rep. Carver, Rep. McCluskie
Surplus Military Vehicles Highway Use If Firefighting. The committee also advanced a proposal that allows local governments and fire protection districts to use surplus military vehicles for firefighting purposes. Under existing law, these vehicles are considered off-highway vehicles and not permitted to be used on public roads.
Sponsors: Sen. Crowder, Rep. Will
Fire Prevention & Control Employee Benefits. The committee moved forward a proposal to require the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) in the Department of Public Safety to provide additional employee benefits to firefighters, including an increased pension benefit and insurance coverage for specific heart conditions and cancers.
Sponsors: Sen. Lee, Rep. Snyder, Rep. Cutter
Homeless Outreach Programs to Reduce Wildfire Risk. The committee approved a bill that creates the Wildfire Risk Reduction Through Homeless Outreach Grant Program within the Department of Local Affairs. The bill directs DOLA to determine best practices for conducting outreach to individuals experiencing homeslessness to reduce wildfire risk in wildlife-urban-interface areas.
Sponsors: Sen. Fenberg, Sen. Coram, Rep. McCluskie, Rep. Snyder
Landowner Assistance for Wildfire Mitigation. Finally the committee considered and advanced a proposal that would create the Wildfire Mitigation Resources and Best Practices Grant Program within the Division of Local Government to conduct outreach among landowners in high wildfire hazard areas to inform them of resources available for wildfire mitigation. The bill also extends the income tax deduction for wildfire mitigation efforts to 2024 and allows landowners to deduct 100% of their costs up to $2,500.
Sponsors: Rep. Cutter, Rep. Will, Sen. Lee