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Carlos Castillo Shares Importance of Wildfire Preparedness and highlights FEMA’s Fire Mitigation Assistance Grants

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Nearly 100 active wildfires continue burning across several states in the Western U.S. as extreme heat and dry conditions fuel the fires. Wildfire season typically runs from June through the fall with a peak in September. “A dramatic increase in fire activity was observed across the West in August as several multi-day heat and lightning events primed and ignited fuels that had become critically dry. Wind events, while not frequent, were impactful. Among the hardest hit states was California where several hundred wildfires were ignited by a multi-day lightning event. Other states greatly impacted by the increase in activity were Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona," the National Interagency Fire Center stated in a report on September 1, 2020.

As fires continue to burn and the risk for additional events will remain high through September, the Tidal Basin Group reminds states, local jurisdictions, and tribal governments of available resources and federal funding. Tidal Basin Group’s Chief Development Officer (CDO) Carlos J. Castillo, CEM shares how the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) Program provides assistance for the preparedness, response and mitigation of wildfires. “These grants are designed to prevent a major disaster caused by a fire...and prevent destruction to homes and communities,” said Castillo.   

According to FEMA, the FMAG program is “available to states, local and tribal governments, for the mitigation, management, and control of fires on publicly or privately owned forests or grasslands, which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.” The Fire Management Assistance declaration process is initiated when a State submits a request for assistance to FEMA’s Regional Director at the time a "threat of major disaster" exists. The entire process is accomplished on an expedited basis and a FEMA decision is rendered in a matter of hours.

The FMAG program provides a 75% federal cost share and the state pays the remaining 25% for actual costs. Before a grant can be awarded, a state must demonstrate that total eligible costs for the declared fire meets or exceeds either the individual fire cost threshold – which is applies to single fires, or the cumulative fire cost threshold – which recognizes numerous smaller fires burning throughout a state. Eligible firefighting costs may include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; tools, materials, and supplies; and mobilization and demobilization activities, according to FEMA.

To learn more about these grants and how to apply, including requirements and additional guidance, click here.