Kim sponsors bipartisan bill to ramp up frontline communications during wildfires

U.S. Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) on Jan 17 sponsored a bipartisan bill that would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to improve the nation’s wildfire communications. 

The NIST Wildland Fire Communications and Information Dissemination Act, H.R. 369, which Rep. Kim introduced with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), aims to boost communications and information sharing efforts between first responders, fire management response officials, and community members during wildfires, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Kim’s office.

“Our brave first responders’ ability to rapidly and securely share information during a wildfire can save lives,”  Rep. Kim said. “I will keep working to create thoughtful policies to support those on the front lines of preventing, detecting and containing wildfires and keeping our communities safe.”

If enacted, H.R. 369 would authorize a research plan to be executed on public safety communication coordination standards among federal, state, local, and tribal wildland firefighters, fire management response officials and the National Interagency Fire Center, according to the summary.

Additionally, live and virtual field testing and the measurement of equipment, software, and other technologies to develop standards for information dissemination would be carried out, and then recommendations would be provided on how to improve communications during wildland fires, the summary says.

Rep. Kim first introduced the same-named bill, H.R. 6410, in January 2022 after hosting a wildfire roundtable where she heard from representatives from the Orange County Fire Authority, the California Army National Guard, CAL FIRE, and the National Weather Service about the state of wildfire coordination and response efforts across Southern California. The bill stalled in the U.S. Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology. 

“I am proud to join Representative Kim in reintroducing bipartisan legislation that will help improve emergency response and help keep our firefighters safe by improving data, communications, and coordination across agencies,” said Rep. Stansbury on Tuesday.