Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee

ESSB 5198

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning fire suppression methodologies.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Ways & Means (originally sponsored by Senators Becker, Warnick, Fain, Bailey and Brown).

Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill

  • Requires the Department of Natural Resources to report to the Legislature by December 31, 2017, on types, efficacy, and recommendations for the use of fire retardants.

Hearing Date: 3/23/17

Staff: Rebecca Lewis (786-7339).


The Department of Natural Resources.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has direct charge and responsibility over all matters relating to forest fire services in the state and acts as the state's manager for forest fire prevention and suppression activities.

Fire Retardants.

Aerial and ground-applied fire retardants reduce wildfire intensity and rate of spread. Fire retardants include water, chemical sprays, water-enhancing gels, and foams. Long-term fire retardants reduce or inhibit combustion, can remain effective for several days, and typically do not rely on the presence of water. Foams and gels are typically used with water.

Certain fire retardants can pose a risk to human health, wildlife, and habitats. Generally, the public is excluded from wildfire areas.

Summary of Bill:

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) must report to the Legislature on several aspects related to the use of long-term fire retardants, foams, and gels for structure protection during wildfire. The report must include:

The DNR must also provide recommendations for legislative action necessary to improve the protection of structures from wildfire. The report is subject to appropriation and due December 31, 2017.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.