All Politics is Local

Sen. Cantwell continues push for firefighting tools

The most recent Wildfire Forecast was released on June 1 by the National Interagency Fire Center and the news for Washington wasn’t ideal. The forecast showed precipitation is down which means the fire risk is high.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., testified during the 2018 Wildland Fire Outlook hearing  earlier this week demanding firefighters have access to new tools.

“As we approach this fire season, making sure that those on the fire line have the best possible information is going to be critical,” Cantwell said during the hearing. “Given what we are looking at this summer, I want to make sure that firefighters have every tool available to them to help fight these fires. They need to be as safe as possible and as efficient as possible.”

She cited an example of new technology available to Southwest Washington. The Department of Interior awarded four contacts to companies that operate unmanned drones specifically used for wildfires. One of those contracts was awarded to Insitu, which is based in Bingen.

“Most importantly we’re proud that Interior is being very aggressive about using this tool on wildland fires, and we want to make sure that there is no barriers between the Forest Service and Interior working together to implement this,” she said. “This is so critical for information about fire size, starts, and safety and security of our firefighters.”

Katy Sword

I cover the city of Vancouver and federal politics. Reach me at katy.sword@columbian.com.

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