California Wildfires Spark Legislation Proposals


In the aftermath of the recent Southern California wildfires that burned more than 515,000 acres and forced nearly 1 million people to temporary evacuate their homes, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced a legislative package that will reduce the risk of wildfires in communities throughout the country.

The package, co-sponsored by California Senator Barbara Boxer, will include the Fire Safe Community Act, the Mortgage and Rental Disaster Relief Act, the Disaster Rebuilding Assistance Act and the Matching Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act.

Feinstein’s press secretary, Phil LaVelle, said the Fire Safe Community Act will give incentives to communities that adopt an ordinance that will set national standards in building codes, create a defensible space around homes and reduce hazardous fuels.

“This is voluntary, but the federal government will reimburse those who participate,” LaVelle said. “This is the cornerstone of the package because people will consider making their homes and communities safer.”

According to the bill, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will work with the U.S. Fire Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to create a model ordinance.

Feinstein will assemble state and local officials to discuss building and zoning policies. Feinstein hopes to use federal money to persuade these officials to adopt national standards for new buildings and retrofitting existing homes, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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