Wildfire suppression bill by Rep. Joel Kretz signed into law

House Bill 2093, aimed at reforming the way Washington state responds to wildfires and allows locals to safely intervene, was signed into law May 7. Sponsored by Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, it was the response to the Carlton Complex Fire last summer and a culmination of hearing from fire victims about the lack of management and response to that wildfire.

“People were understandably angry that more was not done to put the fire out sooner and to coordinate with our local trained resources,” said Kretz. “I'm very pleased to see this bill become law and grateful for the support it received from both sides of the aisle. I also appreciate the Department of Natural Resources' willingness to listen and learn from what happened. I hope this bill, and other lessons learned, will help us as we prepare for this year's fire season. This is a good start, but we'll have to continue looking at our statewide fire response and make further changes.”

Jim DeTro, Ray Campbell, Jon Wyss and Carlene Anders all traveled from Okanogan County to testify on the response to the Carlton Complex Fire. They each shared concerns and a desire to change the state's response.

Provisions of the bill:

  • allow locals to access state land to help put out a fire without being held liable by the state,
  • require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to coordinate and share a list of locals who are qualified to fight fires and enter into agreements with them to use locals first during a fire, and
  • require the Commissioner of Public Lands to appoint both a fire liaison who will represent landowners and the public during a fire, and a Fire Advisory Committee to advise the commissioner on fire activities.

The cost of the bill is about $1 million for the DNR to create the liaison position and committee. An amendment in the Senate would make the bill null and void if the operating budget, still being negotiated in a 30-day special session, does not include the funding. Otherwise, the law goes into effect July 24 of this year.


Washington State House Republican Communications