Today, Representative Josh Harder and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced the bipartisan Fire Department Repayment Act of 2022 which will help fix the fire department repayment system and ensure local departments receive the funds they need in a timely manner to keep our communities safe.
Rep. Harder wrote and introduced this bill after hearing from local fire chiefs that the federal government had been slow to repay Valley departments for fighting fires on federal lands. In January, Rep. Harder secured Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's commitment to fixing this issue during a House Agriculture Committee hearing. Watch the video online here.
"I wrote this bill after hearing directly from our chiefs that they're doing everything they can to keep our communities safe, but the federal government is hanging them out to dry when their bills come due," said Rep. Harder. "It's time we fix this system and ensure the federal government puts our fire departments first. We already have a firefighter shortage in California, the federal government needs to work to fix it, not make it worse."
Rep. Harder's Fire Department Repayment Act of 2022 ensures that the agreements local fire departments enter with the USFS are completed more transparently and in a timely manner, helping give fire departments clarity about when and how much they will be reimbursed for wildfire costs. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes standard operating procedures for fire suppression costs agreements;
- Reviews and modify fire suppression costs agreements as necessary;
- Ensures the fire suppression costs agreements align with cooperative fire protection agreements; and
- Expedites reviews of standard operating procedures.