Stansbury And Kim Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Boost Wildfire Communications & Information Sharing

From the Office of U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Representatives Melanie Stansbury (N.M.-01) and Young Kim (Calif.-40) introduced the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Wildland Fire Communications and Information Dissemination Act (H.R. 369) to boost communications and information sharing efforts between first responders, fire management response officials and community members during wildfires.

Rep. Joe Neguse (Colo.-02) joined as an original cosponsor.

Rep. Stansbury initially introduced the bill with Rep. Kim during the 117th Congress, just before the two largest wildfires in New Mexico’s history, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon and Black Fires, burned a combined total of over 660,000 acres across the state.

“Last year, communities across New Mexico were devastated by the two largest wildfires in our state’s history, and we owe so much to our brave firefighters and first responders who fought these fires. I worked alongside our New Mexico delegation to secure $3.95 billion in disaster relief funding, but we must ensure that our firefighters have the best science, technology, and tools to respond,” Rep. Stansbury said. “That’s why I am proud to join Rep. Kim in re-introducing bipartisan legislation that will help improve emergency response and help keep our firefighters safe by improving data, communications, and coordination across agencies.”

Rep. Stansbury later worked alongside the New Mexico delegation to secure $2.5 billion in federal compensation for communities affected by the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, followed by $1.45 billion in the year-end omnibus appropriations bill.  

“Our brave first responders’ ability to rapidly and securely share information during a wildfire can save lives,” Rep. Kim said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill after hearing directly from Southern California first responders. I will keep working to create thoughtful policies to support those on the front lines of preventing, detecting and containing wildfires and keeping our communities safe.”

“As wildfires continue to threaten our communities in the West, we must work together to find ways in which we can better support our first responders – the firefighters who bravely put their lives on the line to fight these flames,” Rep. Neguse said. “That is why I am proud to cosponsor Reps Kim and Stansbury’s bipartisan bill to support our first responders and enhance communication and response times.”

The NIST Wildland Fire Communications and Information Dissemination Act would require NIST to work on wildfire communications efforts by: 

  • Executing a research plan on public safety communication coordination standards among federal, state, local, and Tribal wildland firefighters, fire management response officials and the National Interagency Fire Center; 
  • Carrying out live and virtual field testing and measurement of equipment, software, and other technologies to develop standards for information dissemination; and 
  • Providing recommendations to the member agencies of the National Interagency Fire Center on how to improve communications during wildland fires.  
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