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6/5/2024 House OKs Cotter bill for coordination for forest fire prevention, response
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Megan Cotter to ensure coordination between the Department of Environmental Management and local fire departments in planning for and coordination of forest fire prevention and response.

The legislation is aimed at ensuring that the local fire departments and districts that will need to respond in the case of a fire have all the information, access and preparation they need.

“Local firefighters are the boots on the ground when it comes to responding to forest fires. Especially in the western part of the state, where most of the large state-managed forests are, local districts and departments need to be included in fire prevention and response plans there. They know the resources they have at their disposal, and including them in coordination ensures they are able to be ready to protect lives and property when forest fires occur,” said Representative Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton).

Representative Cotter served as chairwoman of the Special Legislative Commission to Evaluate and Provide Recommendations on Proper Forest Management for Fire Prevention this year, a commission formed under legislation she sponsored after more than 350 acres were scorched by a wildfire that began in Queen’s River Preserve in Exeter in April 2023.

Under the bill (2024-H 7728A), DEM would, to the greatest extent practicable, coordinate with appropriate local fire departments to assess conditions at the state properties it manages relating to forest fire prevention and response. Conditions to be assessed include egress to and from the property, the capacity of fire roads to support emergency equipment, and access to water supplies within the property.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923