APCIA voices support for bipartisan efforts to address wildfire risks

More than 140 recommendations raised

APCIA voices support for bipartisan efforts to address wildfire risks

Catastrophe & Flood

By Kenneth Araullo

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) has voiced its support for the recent US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing regarding the Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission’s efforts to confront an escalating wildfire crisis.

Established by Congress in 2021 under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Commission was tasked with formulating policy recommendations aimed at enhancing wildfire mitigation, management, and recovery strategies.

The Commission submitted its final report to Congress in the previous autumn, proposing a total of 148 recommendations.

David A Sampson, president and CEO of APCIA and a member of the Wildland Commission, endorsed the Senate’s initiative and commended the hearing that brought to light the dangers of wildfires.

Highlighting the urgent need for a revamped approach to wildfire management, Sampson referenced the Texas Smokehouse Creek Fire as a potent illustration of the growing wildfire threat.

“While there are many natural causes of wildfires, such as lightning strikes, humans caused 87% of wildfire ignitions in the US over the last decade as more people live and recreate in areas prone to wildfires,” he said. “The Smokehouse Creek Fire is another example of a man-made catastrophe. The Commission’s report includes recommendations that encourage hardening of infrastructure and adoption of wildfire mitigation plans that could prevent utility-caused ignitions.”

Sampson noted the role of climate change in exacerbating the wildfire situation, noting that longer, hotter, and drier conditions, alongside significant fuel loads, have made it easier for fires to ignite and spread. This situation is compounded by the continuous growth of populations in areas at risk, leading to greater destruction of communities.

“The Wildland Commission’s straightforward solutions could help communities become more resilient in the face of increasing wildfire activity,” he said. “Investments in proactive planning, mitigation, risk reduction, and the workforce are essential to change the course of increasing severe wildfire risk, damage, and loss. It is critical that Congress take legislative action to implement the Commission’s comprehensive recommendations that span the entire fire cycle.”

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