Cantwell Calls For Improved Firefighting Technology To Keep Firefighters Safe

Senator announces work on bill to bring state-of-the-art tech to fire-lines nation-wide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today called for new technology to help firefighters and community members battling blazes in Washington state and around the country.

“As of today 50% more acres have already burned this year than normal and yesterday a forecast report was released that predicted the west is likely to experience above normal wildfires over the next month. That shouldn’t surprise people because we know exactly what has been trending the last few years,” Senator Cantwell said.

Senator Cantwell announced she is working with Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) on bipartisan legislation to give firefighters access to state-of-the-art technology to assist in firefighting around the country. “The prospective legislation would give firefighters access to tools like wildfire-mapping aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles, that generate real-time maps depicting where the fires are burning and GPS locators for fire crews. Taken together, mapping aircraft and GPS locators are referred to as the ‘Holy Grail’ of wildland firefighter safety.”

Senator Cantwell asked, “Why not combine these two technologies [real-time fire mapping and GPS locating] today to give our firefighters more safety and security as they deal with just these unbelievable conditions that can change so quickly?”

This is on the heels of other legislation that Senator Cantwell introduced in April to assist firefighters that were injured in the line-of-duty.

In previous hearings Senator Cantwell has fought to protect the safety of our firefighters. “Firefighters on the front lines and those who give their lives to protect us deserve fair treatment from their government,” Senator Cantwell said during a March hearing this year.

Also, in a March 2017 letter to President Trump Sen. Cantwell wrote, “Wildfires are serious business in the West … heed the current science to guide your policy decisions around addressing wildfires. Successfully addressing the wildfire problem will make our communities safer, our local economies stronger, our forests healthier, and our country greater.”

Sen. Cantwell has worked for years to pass bipartisan wildfire legislation. In 2015 she visited Washington state, holding a series of roundtables and listening sessions on best practices to fight wildfires, as well as a field hearing on the topic. In 2016 Sen. Cantwell proposed a science-based pilot program to improve communities’ ability to fight and protect themselves from the impacts of wildfires.

You can view today’s entire hearing HERE.