FEMA financial aid offsets the costs of firefighting

FEMA financial aid offsets the costs of firefighting

in potential disaster areas throughout country

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will partially reimburse the State of Washington for costs expended to fight the Barker Mountain fire in the northeastern part of the state. The decision to provide federal assistance came after FEMA’s forest fire advisors flew over the area.

This financial aid is part of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288, Section 417), which states that “The President is authorized to provide assistance, including grants, equipment, supplies, and personnel, to any state for the suppression of any fire on public or privately owned forest or grassland which threatens such destruction that would constitute a major disaster.” Simply stated, aid is given in situations resulting from a fire which, if left unattended, could become a disaster.

Each of the 50 states has established a floor cost, or an average cost expended for this type of firefighting. The figure, which is given to the U.S. Forest Service Cooperative Fire Protection Program, is arrived at by gathering the state’s wildland fire expenditures for a seven-year period, deleting the least expensive and most expensive years, and taking 5% of the average of the remaining five years. California has the highest floor cost for wildland firefighting, averaging $4,421,428; North Dakota has the lowest floor cost at $9,151, according to figures from FEMA. Washington State has a floor cost of $472,724.

The Barker Mountain fire, which was touched off by lightning storms, began August 26; and by late September had been declared under control and mop-up operations were underway.

The fire destroyed about 32,000 acres of forest, farm, and grazing lands, as well as 10 homes, said a spokesman for the Loomis, WA, Fire Department, one of the more than 12 agencies involved in fighting the fire. Among the agencies and organizations that helped mitigate this incident were the U.S. Forest Service, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, and the Confederated Tribes (Indian agencies). Mutual aid also came from agencies in Minnesota, Utah, and Oregon.

Prior to the funding granted to the State of Washington, FEMA had allotted both financial as well as fire suppression aid to the State of California for some of the fires that ravaged that state early last summer. According to FEMA, there have been more wildland fires this year than there have been in the last five years.

Over the last two years, FEMA approved nine of the nineteen requests received for firefighting aid. The States of California, Florida, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and Washington were the recipients of FEMA aid.

No posts to display