A bipartisan bill to require state parks under the Department of Parks and Recreation to meet local fire laws was moved to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on Wednesday, only 9 days after being introduced.
Senate Bill 1012, authored by Senators Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff), would specifically strengthen open fire laws in state parks by having the parks follow the rules adopted by local fire departments or fire protection districts in which the park is located. The tougher of the two laws, state park system or local fire department/fire protection district, would then prevail.
Neither Senator Glazer’s office nor Senator Nielsen’s office responded to statement requests on Thursday as to why the bill was introduced or why it was being championed. However, fire safety experts noted that the implications of the bill could lead to greater wildfire protections if the bill is properly implemented.
“SB 1012 is only in it’s infancy right now and hasn’t gone through all the rounds of committee discussions and amendments, but it would be pretty huge if passed,” Alan Kramer, a wildfire firefighter from Central California, explained to the Globe on Thursday. “A lot of local areas and districts have much stricter fire laws than state or even federal areas. There are exceptions, like Native Americans being allowed leeway on things for tribal reasons or a special event like a movie being made, but even those are kept a close eye on. I mean, in some places you can’t even have a bonfire with dead leaves unless you want the police and a fire crew showing up.”
“Fact of the matter is that hotter summers and drier conditions are becoming more prevalent, and this is causing more wildfires to erupt. And we don’t want another faulty powerline or some arsonist or a gender reveal party gone wrong to cause another major wildfire. Those horrors of the Camp Fire four years ago have stuck with every wildfire fighter on the ground and in the air.”
Another wildfire fighter, Luis Harris-Rodriguez, added “If we can stop people having huge fires and make them so they follow the laws of areas more sensitive to local wildfire dangers, especially during wildfire season, it would be a big help.”
“I think it’s cool that there is a Republican and a Democrat working together on this, because it shows how this is not a partisan issue. Wildfires don’t give a damn about politics, they’ll just go and burn indiscriminately. You’ll find that any public safety professional will be all for restricting these fires. Would you rather upset a few campers or save lives, property and large swaths of forest for future generations? It’s something we really need to think about now, and we need to get a handle on them fast. We can’t stop things like lightning strikes starting fires, but we can reduce the amount we cause, and this is one very significant way.”
As of Thursday, no significant opposition has come against the bill. SB 1012 is expected to be heard in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in the coming months.