WASHINGTON — Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) issued the following statement in support of H.R. 167 and S. 235, The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act.
“Wildfires pose an increasingly serious threat to public safety, and put thousands of homeowners across multiple states at risk for losing their homes,” said Wienecke. “This commonsense legislation would give the Secretary of the Interior the flexibility to request supplemental appropriations from Congress to more effectively fight wildfires and promote public safety and potentially reduce wildfire related property damage.
“PCI and the insurance industry are acutely aware of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, such as wildfires and their impact on communities across the U.S. Property casualty insurers help communities prepare, recover and take steps to save lives and prevent property damage. Preventing or reducing the severity of wildfires also should be a priority for federal, state, and local government as well as for the private industry,” continued Wienecke.
“In recent years, the federal funding and prioritization of firefighting and mitigation resources have been too focused on what to do after a fire starts and not focused on how to prevent fires in the first place and decreasing the intensity of fires when they do happen. Requiring the U.S. Forest Service to focus on mitigation would be an important step in the right direction,” said Wienecke. According to the Nature conservancy, more than 8.5 million acres were burned in wildfires during 2015 making it one of the most sever wildfire seasons on record. Firefighting costs consumed over 50% of the U.S. Forest Service budget in 2015, compared to only 16% in 1995.
“PCI urges Congress to come together and support this important legislation,” concluded Wienecke.