April 29, 2022

TWO WILDFIRE PREVENTION BILLS PASS THE HOUSE

DENVER, CO – The House passed two bills today to prevent wildfires. These bills aim to boost local fire department funding, prevent uncontrolled burns and build a safer Colorado.

“In an instant, a controlled burn can take a turn and spark a devastating wildfire,” said Rep.

Tony Exum, D-Colorado Springs, sponsor of HB22-1132. “This bill requires Coloradans to report their controlled burn plans to their local fire departments. During my career as a firefighter, we worked closely with community members and this bill will give local departments the knowledge they need to prevent uncontrolled burns in their communities and help prevent sweeping wildfires.

“Wildfire season in Colorado is no longer just in the summer and our bill provides volunteer firefighters with updated equipment, access to behavioral health resources and other support they need,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, sponsor of SB22-002. “Many of our brave firefighters are volunteers, and it is incumbent on us to support them as they work so hard to protect us, particularly as wildfires are increasing in frequency and intensity.”

Notification and Services For Wildfire Mitigation: HB22-1132, sponsored by Representatives Tony Exum and Richard Holtorf would require Coloradans to notify their local fire department or other governing authority before conducting a controlled burn. HB22-1132 passed by a vote of 56 to 6. Under the bill, after fire departments are alerted about the time, date and location of a burn, they will determine if firefighters need to be on standby at the burn site. This bill aims to prevent uncontrolled burns that could spark a devastating wildfire.

Resources For Volunteer Firefighters: SB22-002, sponsored by Representative Lisa Cutter and Perry Will advanced in the House on a preliminary vote and would invest $1 million to better prepare local fire departments and their firefighters for wildfires. SB22-002 passed by a vote of 58 to 4. Specifically, this bill would make local volunteer fire departments eligible for reimbursement for wildland fire suppression activities, including equipment costs and volunteer firefighter recruitment, training and retention. Local fire departments will also be able to use funds from the Local Firefighter Safety and Disease Prevention Grant Program for the replacement or disposal of damaged or obsolete equipment. The bill also creates the Firefighter Behavioral Health Benefits Trust to provide behavioral health care services to firefighters and paid for by public employers.