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Who Should Pay For Fire Protection?

Friday, Jul. 15, 2011

Summer wildfires in California are an annual event. Ranging from small hillside fires to roaring infernos covering thousands of acres, a good chunk of the budget goes to fight those fires. Now, the bill will go property owners.

By signing Assembly Bill 29, Governor Jerry Brown established a “fire protection and prevention fee” intended to cover wildland areas now paid for by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The $150 fee for each structure within state responsibility areas is expected to save $50 million for CAL FIRE and $200 million in ongoing general fund savings.

The governor, while praising the bill, admits the legislation needs additional work to address legal and other issues.

Deciding to build a home on a steep hillside, in a secluded forest area, or near the ocean side, all present significant difficulties for fire and rescue personnel –above and beyond what is encountered in urban areas.

Who should pay for mitigating expensive disasters? The debate continues: some argue that if you make the decision to live in a remote or disaster-prone area you should pay the costs. The property owners impacted by this fee argue that their tax dollars cover the expenses, and they should not be singled and asked to pay more.

What do you think?

Tags: California legislature, diaster assistance, emergency response, Governor Jerry Brown

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