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Published on Friday, February 6, 2015

Slew of fire bills making their way through the Legislature

Over the past few weeks a number of fire service and firefighting bills have had public hearings. Here are a few of the bills AWC is paying special attention to this legislative session:

HB 1368: Removing disincentives to the voluntary formation of regional fire protection service authorities by equalizing certain provisions with existing laws governing fire protection districts and by clarifying the formation process, Rep. Chris Reykdal (D-Olympia)

HB 1368 : Hd a public hearing and executive action was taken in the House Local Government Committee on February 5.

HB 1368: Allows regional fire protection service authorities (RFAs) to continue to impose benefit charges with a ballot measure approved by a majority, rather than 60%, of the voters voting on the measure. It also establishes financial protections for the authorities by allowing up to $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed value of a RFAs levy to be exempted from pro-rationing requirements, and by extending future levy capacity protection provisions to RFAs that impose benefit charges.

HB 1389 & SB 5181: Addressing the scope of state fire service mobilization and ensuring compliance with existing state and federal disaster response policies, Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), Sen. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe)

HB 1389: Had a public hearing and executive action taken in the House Public Safety Committee on January 21 and a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on February 4.

SB 5181: Had a public hearing and executive action taken in the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee. It has been referred to Ways & Means.

Currently the state Fire Service Resource Mobilization Plan can be implemented to provide resources from around the state when a wild land fire exceeds firefighting capacity of local jurisdictions. Non-host fire protection authorities are eligible for reimbursement of expenses when mobilized under the plan.

Following the Oso landslide a commission was formed to review the landslide and the collective response to it. Among the commission’s recommendations was that the Legislature clarify the definition of all-hazards mobilization under the plan. SB 5181 and HB 1389 do that by authorizing mobilization of risk resources regularly provided by fire departments, fire districts and regional fire protection authorities, including but not limited to wild land fires, landslides, earthquakes, floods, and contagious diseases. Non-host fire protection authorities are eligible for reimbursement of expenses if a mobilization meets requirements identified in the mobilization plan.

HB 1606 & SB 5537: Establishing regional fire protection service authorities within the boundaries of regional cities, Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland), Sen. Cyrus Habib (D-Seattle).

HB 1606: Had a public hearing in the House Local Government Committee on February 4.

SB 5537 : Had a public hearing in the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee on February 3.

Spearheaded by the Firefighters and Fire Chiefs, HB 1606 and SB 5537 authorize regional fire protection service authorities to be formed within a single regional city rather than only within an area that is coextensive with two or more fire protection jurisdictions. “Regional city” is defined as a city with not less than either 40% of the total population of the county in which the city is located, or 50,000 residents.

HB 1382 & SB 5455: Addressing the delivery of basic firefighting training and testing, Rep. Dan Griffey (R-Allyn), Sen. Ann Rivers (R-La Center)

HB 1382: Had a public hearing in the House Local Government Committee on February 3.

SB 5455: Had a public hearing in the Government Operations & Security Committee on February 3.

HB 1382 and SB 5455: Obligate the Director of Fire Protection to develop and adopt a plan for the WA State Patrol’s Fire Training Academy to deliver basic firefighting training and testing to all public firefighting agencies in the state. Under the proposed legislation firefighting agencies have the option to seek reimbursement for their firefighting training expenses in lieu of obtaining training from the Academy.

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