Maui Wildfire — Hawaii Addresses Fire Fighting Equipment Shortages

The Hawaii House and Senate have passed a bill that will get the state more firefighting equipment, and will also reestablish a state fire marshal. The bills are now on the desk of Hawaii Governor Josh Green.

He is expected to sign.

Rep. Kyle Yamashita is the chair of the House Finance Committee. He said the bill is another response to the fire on Maui that killed 101 people in Lahaina.

“I think that the biggest game changer is now, Hawaii is viewed as a wildfire state,” Yamashita said. “So we have to change our policies and procedures and what our departments have to do to mitigate some of the fuel and those kind of different things.”

The bill spends $172,000 on thestate fire marshal, an assistant and training. That person will be charged with reviewing and assessing fire risk over all of Hawaii. They will also work closely with county agencies to begin better enforcement of fire codes.

Here’s what else is contained in the bill:

  • $10 million goes to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for bulldozers, fire engines and water tanks
  • $1.4 million will hire 22 more staff for the department including mechanics, heavy equipment operators and a forester
  • The department will get $7.4M to take care of invasive grasses and other fire-fueling vegetation
  • $1 million will go to the University of Hawaii to use AI to put together a wildfire forecast system

Other spending includes $1 billion to cover various costs stemming from the Lahaina fire. This includes $500 million for housing for those displaced by the fire and $124 million for rental assistance.

A victim relief fund of $65 million has been approved for victim relief.

Source link: Associated Press —

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