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House approves wildfire measure

OLYMPIA - The House of Representatives this past Wednesday passed a measure to improve communications during a wildfire, one of a series of bills aimed at addressing wildfire response.

House Bill 2667, sponsored by Rep. Bruce Chandler, would help various responders communicate with each other by requiring a specified radio channel be used for fire response during a wildfire.

"How we respond to wildfires, especially in sagebrush, is important to public safety and to the protection of property," said Chandler, R-Granger. "This legislation improves communication between emergency personnel to respond more quickly and more effectively to a wildfire."

Chandler said several groups and many citizens had input on this and another bill aimed at improving wildfire response.

"This is not just about jurisdictional authority, it's about putting out fires while they are smaller and before they do more damage, protecting property and people," Chandler said.

The House passed the bill 96-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration. House Bill 2549, a bill to improve fire protection outside fire districts, awaits action by the House Rules Committee before it can be scheduled for a vote of the full House.

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