SENATE BILL REPORT
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.
As Reported by Senate Committee On:
Natural Resources & Parks, February 14, 2017
Ways & Means, February 23, 2017
Title: An act relating to fire suppression methodologies.
Brief Description: Concerning fire suppression methodologies.
Sponsors: Senators Becker, Warnick, Fain, Bailey and Brown.
Committee Activity: Natural Resources & Parks: 1/24/17, 2/14/17 [DP-WM, DNP].
Ways & Means: 2/21/17, 2/23/17 [DPS, DNP, w/oRec].
SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES & PARKS
Majority Report: Do pass and be referred to Committee on Ways & Means.
Signed by Senators Pearson, Chair; Hawkins, Vice Chair; Fortunato.
Minority Report: Do not pass.
Signed by Senators Van De Wege, Ranking Minority Member; McCoy.
Staff: Kelsey Morfitt (786-7407)
SENATE COMMITTEE ON WAYS & MEANS
Majority Report: That Substitute Senate Bill No. 5198 be substituted therefor, and the substitute bill do pass.
Signed by Senators Braun, Chair; Brown, Vice Chair; Rossi, Vice Chair; Honeyford, Vice Chair, Capital Budget ; Rolfes, Assistant Ranking Minority Member, Operating Budget; Frockt, Assistant Ranking Minority Member, Capital Budget; Bailey, Becker, Billig, Conway, Darneille, Fain, Hasegawa, Keiser, Miloscia, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Warnick and Zeiger.
Minority Report: Do not pass.
Signed by Senator Pedersen.
Minority Report: That it be referred without recommendation.
Signed by Senators Ranker, Ranking Minority Member; Carlyle.
Staff: Jed Herman (786-7346)
Background: Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Legislature designated DNR as the state's manager for forest fire prevention and suppression activities. In this role, DNR must lead and supervise all matters pertaining to the state's forest fire service.
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. Fire retardants can pose a risk to human health, wildlife and habitats. Generally, the public is excluded from wildfire areas and not directly affected by fire retardants.
Summary of Bill (First Substitute): DNR must report on the types and risks of fire retardants used, including long-term fire retardants, foams, and gels. Specifically, this report must include best practices for fire retardants used at the national level. Additionally, the report must summarize public outreach and education regarding these fire suppressants.
Furthermore, DNR must recommend any legislative actions necessary to improve the protection of structures from wildfires. DNR has until December 31, 2017, to provide this report and recommendations to the Legislature.
The DNR report is subject to appropriation.
EFFECT OF CHANGES MADE BY WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE (First Substitute):
Makes the DNR report subject to appropriations.
Fiscal Note: Available.
Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.
Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony on Original Bill (Natural Resources & Parks): PRO: This bill helps the public protect their homes from wildfires by applying a fire retardant foam to their home while waiting for a fire fighter response.
OTHER: This bill is achievable, but it would take a lot of staff work; especially best practices of retardants and structure protection.
Persons Testifying (Natural Resources & Parks): PRO: Senator Randi Becker, Prime Sponsor.
OTHER: Loren Torgerson, Dept. Natural Resources, Wildfire Policy Advisor.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying (Natural Resources & Parks): No one.
Staff Summary of Public Testimony on Original Bill (Ways & Means): The committee recommended a different version of the bill than what was heard. PRO: Information is needed from the DNR to help homeowners affected by wildfires, similar to what homeowners have in New Mexico.
Persons Testifying (Ways & Means): PRO: Senator Randi Becker, Prime Sponsor.
Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying (Ways & Means): No one.