Last week, central Washington’s Kim Schrier and California’s Ami Brea, introduced the Fire Ready National Act.  The legislation introduced by the two Democrats will allow NOAA to be more involved in the detection and response of wildfires.

Washington’s Maria Cantwell has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“We are seeing increasingly catastrophic wildfires in the West and we need to ensure we have more resources at our disposal to confront them. The earlier the detection of wildfire, the more quickly our firefighters can respond,” Schrier said. “NOAA has many systems on the ground and with satellite technology that will enhance systems already in place for detecting extreme weather and wildfires. This is commonsense legislation that will provide more tools and expertise to aid in fighting wildfires. We have no time to waste.”

“In California, we’ve seen firsthand the devastation that wildfires cause to our lives and livelihoods. As climate change is causing wildfires to become more frequent and more severe, we must take proactive measures to keep our communities protected and safe. I’m proud to introduce the Fire Ready Nation Act alongside Representative  Schrier to improve federal coordination and collaboration on wildfire prevention and response efforts, develop and test new technologies to combat fire hazards, and strengthen our ability to forecast weather conditions that cause and spread wildfires,” Bera said.

NOAA’s weather infrastructure (ground, air, and satellite-based observation systems) provides weather and climate data that is integral to Federal and non-Federal partners wildfire preparation and response efforts. NOAA’s fire weather products include short-term warnings and long-term predictions of future fire hazards.

This bill would:

  • Formally authorize NOAA engagement in federal wildfire response activities and science and technologies that forecast weather conditions that cause and spread wildfires
  • Establish data management and sharing standards for all NOAA data
  • Create a fire weather testbed to develop, test, and operationalize new technologies to address fire hazards
  • Coordinate ground-based data collection systems across multiple Federal agencies to improve and enhance fire weather data collection and sharing
  • Require NOAA to conduct post fire weather surveys and assessments to identify gaps and recommendations to improve future forecasts

"As wildfires continue to endanger communities across the United States, especially in the West, NOAA must have the capacity and authority to prevent, forecast, and fight dangerous wildfires. The Fire Ready Nation Act of 2022 is a significant step forward by providing critical research support for improving our understanding of wildfire behavior, especially in the critical wildland-urban interface. Additionally, it will strengthen specialized computer models to support the operational needs of firefighting agencies…NCAR's expertise can directly support the forecasting capabilities at NOAA and the agency's wildfire risk reduction strategy. I applaud Representatives Schrier and Bera for introducing this legislation and taking an interagency approach to addressing a complex problem that touches the lives of so many Americans," said University Corporation for Atmospheric Research President Antonio Busalacchi.

“The Fire Ready Nation Act should prove an important game changer in understanding and predicting wildland fire behavior,” added John Werner, President of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

“Developing better smoke and air quality modeling will be critical as fire seasons persist longer allowing the health impacts to become increasingly troublesome on the overall population. The acquisition of high-powered computing to support fire weather services will provide more accurate forecast modeling for Incident Meteorologists, especially those working in complex terrain in the Western US. Waiving the current pay restrictions on IMETs will allow them to provide their expert meteorological services for more of the year rather than needlessly being sent back to their home office to avoid the artificial pay cap restrictions. Not only does this benefit the program since it lets more experienced IMETs stay in the field longer, it also benefits their home Weather Forecast Office since this allows them to work more shifts covering severe weather during the remainder of the year,” said Jon Fox, Incident Meteorologist from the Spokane Forecast Office and Western Regional Chair of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

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