Friday, September 9, 2011

Drought and Fire!

The NWS has recorded the JUNE,JULY, AUGUST period as the lowest recorded rainfall for the entirety of the STATE of TEXAS in its history. Wildland fires have impacted urban areas there and elsewhere this year.

On its formation a Department of Agriculture, DOD, Interior Dept and FEMA MOU was signed on fire issues. Then lost to memory. By the time James Lee Witt arrived FEMA did not have organizational memory of that MOU or it past roles in fighting fire or the URBAN/Wildfire interface as now called.

Director Witt was actually on Long Island, NY, directing C-130s with chemical firefighting retardant when he was informed that FEMA was not in charge. GAO reviewed the issue and concluded that the current firefighting system was broke and suggested updating. Essentially concluding that FEMA had been trying to help and done the correct thing in doing so.

Some forget that firefighting is specifically addressed in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707, that repealed in part, supplemented in part, and revised in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974,
Public Law 93-238.

Also in the Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974, as amended, is authority for a specific reimbursement program for firefighting on federal property and that authority implemented by 44 CFR Part 150.

All of this documented by the OGC of the independent FEMA when the US sued California for losses caused by activity of California state authorities in starting fires impacting federal property and eventually that case lost because DOJ in its ignorance lost it on a Statute of Limitations argument by California even though it helped to ensure that DOJ was up-to-date on Statute of Limitations affecting its affirmative litigation. The largest caseload of that nature is the US to recover damages from third parties who have injured active duty service personnel.

But all this deserves close Congressional and WH review before an Australian type situation burns its way into the USA news.

And good luck TEXAS because some experts think this is a 50 year drought or longer.