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Text of the Fire Safe Communities Act of 2009

This bill was introduced on April 1, 2009, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Apr 1, 2009 (Introduced).

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Source: GPO

II

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 762

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 1, 2009

introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

A BILL

To promote fire safe communities and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Fire Safe Communities Act of 2009.

2.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Fire hazard area

The term fire hazard area means an area at significant risk from wildland fire as determined by—

(A)

the applicable State forestry agency or equivalent State agency; or

(B)

the Under Secretary.

(2)

Fire safe community

The term fire safe community means—

(A)

a subdivision of a State that has adopted a national wildland fire code, standard, or ordinance; or

(B)

a municipality at risk that has adopted local ordinances that—

(i)

are consistent with more than one of the elements set out in paragraph (4)(C)(ii); and

(ii)

the Under Secretary determines provide generally accepted levels of fire protection.

(3)

Municipality at risk

The term municipality at risk means a subdivision of a State that is located in, or contains, a fire hazard area.

(4)

National wildland fire code, standard, or ordinance

The term national wildland fire code, standard, or ordinance means—

(A)

the most recent publication of National Fire Protection Association code number 1141, 1142, or 1144;

(B)

the most recent publication of the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code of the International Code Council; or

(C)

any other code which—

(i)

the Under Secretary determines provides the same, or better, standards for protection against wildland fire as a code described in subparagraph (A) or (B); and

(ii)

may include—

(I)

specifications for construction materials and techniques for use in municipalities at risk;

(II)

guidelines for the placement of utilities, defensible space, and vegetation management;

(III)

enforcement mechanisms for compliance with defensible space requirements;

(IV)

zoning and site design standards for new residential construction, including the width and placement of surrounding fuel breaks and description of unsafe areas to locate new homes, such as the top of highly dangerous canyons that funnel wildfire heat;

(V)

specifications for water supplies for firefighting;

(VI)

requirements for adequate firefighting protection, including requirements for fire stations and equipment;

(VII)

guidelines for the participation of fire professionals in the development of local fire protection models;

(VIII)

standards for the protection of roads and bridges;

(IX)

standards for the egress capacities of roads and bridges;

(X)

guidelines for the marking of buildings and homes; and

(XI)

requirements for the replacement of combustible roofing material on existing homes.

(5)

Under Secretary

The term Under Secretary means the Under Secretary for Federal Emergency Management of the Department of Homeland Security.

3.

Additional fire management assistance grants for fire safe communities

(a)

In general

The Under Secretary may reduce the amount of the share of non-Federal funds required by the Fire Management Assistance Grant Program to 10 percent of the grant amount for a municipality at risk if such municipality has adopted a—

(1)

national wildland fire code, standard, or ordinance; or

(2)

local ordinance, standard, or code that requires the retrofit of existing construction that provides for increased protection for the municipality from the threat of wildfire, such as a requirement to replace combustible roofing material used in existing structures.

(b)

Rulemaking

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register a final rule that includes a definition of the term local ordinance, standard, or code that requires the retrofit of existing construction that provides for increased protection for the municipality from the threat of wildfire as used in subsection (a)(2).

(c)

Fire management assistance grant program defined

In this section, the term Fire Management Assistance Grant Program means the fire management assistance grant program carried out pursuant to section 420 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5187).

4.

Grants for responsible development

(a)

In general

Subject to the availability of funds for this purpose, the Under Secretary shall award grants to municipalities at risk—

(1)

to encourage responsible development in such municipalities;

(2)

to mitigate the catastrophic effects of fires; and

(3)

to encourage the retrofit of existing wildfire-prone structures.

(b)

Use of funds

Grants awarded under this section may be used as follows:

(1)

To enforce requirements related to hazardous fuel reduction or brush clearing requirements on private land.

(2)

To enforce requirements related to residential construction or the code-inspection of new and existing construction with respect to wildland fire.

(3)

To award subgrants to be used for the replacement of combustible roofs with roofs made of non-combustible roofing material, or for enclosing eaves according to the standards recommended.

(4)

To carry out programs to educate community planners and zoning officials on historic wildfire patterns and fire-resistant community planning.

(c)

Maximum grant amount

The amount of a grant awarded under this section may not exceed $1,000,000.

(d)

Applications

(1)

In general

An application for a grant under this section shall be made at such time and in such manner as the Under Secretary shall require.

(2)

Matching requirement

(A)

In general

Subject to subparagraph (B), the Under Secretary shall require that a person awarded a grant under this section for a purpose described in subsection (a) provide non-Federal funds in an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount of such grant for such purpose.

(B)

Waiver

The Under Secretary may waive the requirement of subparagraph (A) in extraordinary circumstances.

(3)

Review

Applications for grants under this section shall be reviewed by a panel of individuals who—

(A)
(i)

are fire protection experts; or

(ii)

have significant expertise in fire management, fire policy, community planning, or issues related to a fire hazard area; and

(B)

are appointed by the Under Secretary.

(4)

Priority

The panel under paragraph (3) shall give priority to the application for a grant under this section of a municipality at risk that has adopted an ordinance that requires the mandatory replacement of combustible roofing materials on existing structures.

(e)

Availability of funds

A grant awarded under this section shall be expended not later than 3 years after the date the grant is awarded.

(f)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $25,000,000 for fiscal year 2009 and each fiscal year thereafter.

5.

Forest Service and Department of the Interior grants

Section 10A of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2106c) is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a)—

(A)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1)—

(i)

by inserting and the Secretary of the Interior after The Secretary; and

(ii)

by striking State foresters and equivalent State officials and inserting State foresters, equivalent State officials, and local officials;

(B)

in paragraph (3)—

(i)

by striking trees and forests and inserting trees, forests, and rangelands; and

(ii)

by inserting and rangeland after overall forest; and

(C)

in paragraph (4)—

(i)

by inserting and rangeland after all forest; and

(ii)

by inserting and other vegetation after forest cover;

(2)

in subsection (b)—

(A)

in paragraph (1)—

(i)

in subparagraph (C), by striking and at the end;

(ii)

in subparagraph (D), by striking wildfires. and inserting wildfires; and; and

(iii)

by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(E)

to enhance the capacity of local governments to integrate fire-resistant community and home design into local planning, zoning, building codes, property maintenance codes, and brush clearing ordinances.

;

(B)

by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:

(2)

Administration and implementation

The Program shall be—

(A)

administered by the Chief of the Forest Service and the Secretary of the Interior; and

(B)

implemented through State foresters or equivalent State officials.

;

(C)

in paragraph (3)—

(i)

in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by striking Secretary, and inserting Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior,;

(ii)

by redesignating subparagraphs (F), (G), and (H) as subparagraphs (G), (H), and (I), respectively; and

(iii)

by inserting after subparagraph (E) the following:

(F)

programs to build the capacity of local governments to design and maintain fire-resistant communities;

;

(D)

in paragraph (4), by inserting or the Secretary of the Interior after by the Secretary; and

(E)

in paragraph (5), by inserting and the Secretary of the Interior after The Secretary;

(3)

by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (d) and (e), respectively;

(4)

by inserting after subsection (b), the following new subsection (c):

(c)

Pilot program for fire safe communities To coordinate across jurisdictional boundaries

(1)

Authority

The Secretary and the Secretary of the Interior may carry out a pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of awarding grants to fire safe communities located near Federal land to assist in Federal efforts to prevent and manage fires.

(2)

Use of grant funds

A grant awarded under the pilot program may be used as follows:

(A)

To implement or enforce local ordinances consistent with a nationally recognized wildland fire code, standard, or ordinance.

(B)

To complete cooperative fire agreements that articulate the roles and responsibilities for Federal, State, and local government entities in local wildfire suppression and protection.

(C)

To develop or implement community wildfire protection plans to better focus resources to address priority areas for hazardous fuels reduction projects.

(D)

To expand education programs to raise the awareness of homeowners and citizens of wildland fire protection practices.

(E)

To implement training programs for firefighters on wildland firefighting techniques and mitigation strategies.

(F)

To acquire equipment to facilitate wildland fire preparedness and mitigation.

(3)

Matching requirement

(A)

In general

Subject to subparagraph (B), a person awarded a grant under the pilot program to assist in Federal efforts to prevent and manage fires shall provide non-Federal funds in an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount of such grant for such purpose.

(B)

Waiver

The Secretary or the Secretary of the Interior may waive the requirements of subparagraph (A) in extraordinary circumstances.

(4)

Fire safe community defined

In this subsection, the term fire safe community has the meaning given that term in section 2 of the Fire Safe Communities Act of 2009.

;

(5)

in subsection (d), as redesignated by paragraph (3), by inserting and the Secretary of the Interior after section, the Secretary; and

(6)

in subsection (e), as redesignated by paragraph (3)—

(A)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking to the Secretary;

(B)

in paragraph (1), by striking and at the end; and

(C)

by striking paragraph (2) and inserting the following:

(2)

to the Secretary—

(A)

$35,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013; and

(B)

such sums as are necessary for each fiscal year thereafter; and

(3)

to the Secretary of the Interior—

(A)

$15,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013; and

(B)

such sums as are necessary for each fiscal year thereafter.

.