Amendment Would Give the Program Longer-Term Certainty and Stability to Help Communities Detect and Monitor Wildfires
Washington D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to formally authorize the National Guard's Fireguard Program to help detect and monitor wildfires across the country.
"As Colorado and other western states continue to face severe and devastating wildfires, we must invest in programs that help our land management agencies monitor fire starts and firefighters navigate dangerous situations," said Bennet. "The Fireguard Program is an excellent resource that does just that, which is why we ought to give the program - and those who rely on it - long-term certainty and stability .”
“The real-time fire location data we receive from the Fireguard program has been a great help in deploying California’s wildland firefighting crews quickly and where they’re most needed,” said Feinstein. “This amendment would sustain the program, a critical tool as Western wildfires become more frequent, more destructive and more deadly as a result of climate change. I encourage all senators to support this amendment to extend a vital initiative that will save lives.”
“The National Guard’s FireGuard program has proven to be a valuable asset in wildfire firefighting across the West,” said Crapo. “By using advanced technologies to track and predict fire patterns, the FireGuard program is crucial to keeping western communities safe.”
"FireGuard is a great asset to our nation and has allowed us to prevent significant loss of life and property across the United States since the program's inception," said Col. Mike Bruno, the Chief of the Joint Staff, Colorado National Guard.
In 2019, the National Guard established the FireGuard pilot program to improve information-sharing with wildland firefighting communities. The program includes two teams of Air Force and Army National Guard intelligence analysts based in California and Colorado that use the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) Firefly program to provide data to fight wildfires. FireGuard analysis offers firefighting communities access to crucial data that they may not have access to.
Currently, the program is extended by the Department of Defense on a year-to-year basis and is set to expire on September 30th, 2022. The amendment authorizes the FireGuard program for five years, which would provide long-term certainty for emergency responders who rely on the program.
The bill text is available HERE.