"Our homes and families are put in danger every year by the increasing number of pre-green up fires. We need to have fire fighters and equipment in place, to adequately respond to these fires."
- Rep. Olson
(Juneau) - Kenai Peninsula Representative Kurt Olson has introduced House Bill 395, an act extending the length of the fire season.
HB 395 changes the beginning of the fire season from May 1st to April 1st. By making this change, the commissioner can begin the process of preparing for the fire season in time to prevent more early-season fires, also known as "pre-green up" fires.
"Our homes and families are put in danger every year by the increasing number of pre-green up fires" said Representative Olson. "We need to have fire fighters and equipment in place, to adequately respond to these fires."
On the southern Peninsula last year an early season, 5400-acre fire east of Homer could have become much larger. A shift in the winds would have devastated East End Road residents and threatened Homer itself.
The danger of pre-green up fires is a statewide problem. The Matanuska Valley, the Fairbanks area and even the Anchorage bowl are all seeing a greater number of these fires.
This bill will allow for proactive efforts at public awareness as well as prevention and suppression. Since most early season fires are human caused, public participation is a critical step in curbing the increase of these fires.
An April 1st start of the fire season means the training, recertification and medical exams of seasonal firefighters can be started earlier. Making them better prepared to defend our homes and property. Equipment, stored over the winter, must be readied. Leased equipment must be brought in. All this takes time. Once this bill is passed, the commissioner will have an additional month to prepare.
"The brave men and women who fight fires in Alaska deserve the best support we can give them," said Representative Olson.