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SB-109 Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 09/24/2021 02:00 PM
SB109:v92#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 109
CHAPTER 239

An act to add and repeal Section 8586.8 of the Government Code, relating to wildfires.

[ Approved by Governor  September 23, 2021. Filed with Secretary of State  September 23, 2021. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 109, Dodd. Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development.
Existing law, the California Emergency Services Act, establishes, within the office of the Governor, the Office of Emergency Services, under the direction of the Director of Emergency Services for the purpose of mitigating the effects of natural, manmade, or war-caused emergencies.
Existing law also establishes the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and establishes various programs for the prevention and reduction of wildfires. Existing law requires the office and the department to jointly establish and lead the Wildfire Forecast and Threat Intelligence Integration Center, and sets forth the functions and duties of the center, including serving as the state’s integrated central organizing hub for wildfire forecasting.
This bill would, until January 1, 2029, also establish the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development within the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection under the direct control of the Director of the department. The bill would make the office responsible for studying, testing, and advising regarding procurement of emerging technologies and tools in order to more effectively prevent and suppress wildfires throughout the state, through specified activities, as provided.
This bill would establish the Wildfire Technology Research and Development Review Advisory Board consisting of 9 specified members, including the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, or their designee, the Director of the Office of Emergency Services, or their designee, and the Director of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or their designee, among others. The bill would make the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development subject to review by the board. The bill would require the board to meet at least 4 times per year, as specified. The bill would require the findings and recommendations of the board to be compiled and delivered to the office of the Governor and the Legislature no later than January 1, 2024, and annually thereafter, as provided. The bill would require members of the board to serve without compensation, but would allow members to be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in connection with their duties.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) With approximately 40,000,000 residents, the State of California is the most populous state in the nation and has the third largest land area among the states (163,695 square miles).
(b) California faces arguably the most complex and severe wildfire disaster conditions in the nation that pose threats to our people, property, economy, and environment. These challenges and complexities grow in magnitude each year.
(c) Catastrophic wildfires pose an urgent threat to lives, property, and resources in California.
(d) Seventeen of the 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred since 2000, and 6 of the 7 largest wildfires occurred in 2020 alone.
(e) The escalating frequency and devastation caused by wildfires demand ongoing research and development of emerging wildfire technologies and tools to prevent, monitor, identify, and suppress wildfires developed by public, private, and nonprofit entities in order to protect lives and property from the effects of wildfires.
(f) It is in the best interest of the state that our wildfire preparedness and response infrastructure include and integrate the most effective and evidence-based scientific and technological perspectives and tools to address the wildfire threat facing California.

SEC. 2.

 Section 8586.8 is added to the Government Code, to read:

8586.8.
 (a) For purposes of this section, “office” means the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development.
(b) The Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development is hereby established in state government within the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to study, test, and advise regarding procurement of emerging technologies and tools in order to more effectively prevent and suppress wildfires within the state. The office shall serve as the central organizing hub for the state government’s identification of emerging wildfire technologies.
(c) The office shall be under the direct control of the Director of Forestry and Fire Protection.
(d) The office shall undertake, but is not limited to, the following activities:
(1) Develop a balanced, multimodal research and development program designed to identify, research, test, and evaluate emerging technologies and tools designed to improve the state’s preparation for, and response to, wildfires in the state, including, but not limited to, fire retardants and ground, aerial, mobile, portable, communication, predictive modeling, software, or stationary equipment used for California’s wildfire preparedness and by first responders.
(2) Consult with public, private, and nonprofit entities in identifying new technologies tools, software, and other advances in wildfire preparedness and response.
(3) Make recommendations to state and local agencies on the most effective and useful technologies and tools for procurement.
(e) The office shall be subject to review by the Wildfire Technology Research and Development Review Advisory Board, which shall serve in an advisory capacity, and shall consist of the following nine members:
(1) The Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, or their designee.
(2) The Director of the Office of Emergency Services, or their designee.
(3) The Director of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or their designee.
(4) Four members who are appointed by the Governor for a term of four years each, as follows:
(A) One representative from academia involved in the field of wildfire research and technology development.
(B) One representative from the private wildfire response science, engineering, and technology industry.
(C) One representative from local government.
(D) One member of the public employed as a first responder.
(5) One member who is appointed by the Senate for a term of four years who is involved in victim services.
(6) One member who is appointed by the Assembly for a term of four years who is involved in the protection of privacy and civil liberties.
(f) The board shall meet at least four times per year to review, analyze, and assess the activities and progress of the Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development, and to consult with public, private, and nonprofit entities regarding their interaction and responsiveness of the office.
(1) The findings and recommendations of the board shall be compiled and delivered to the office of the Governor and the Legislature as a report no later than January 1, 2024, and annually thereafter.
(2) The report developed by the board pursuant to this section shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795.
(g) Members of the board shall serve without compensation, but they may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in connection with their duties.
(h) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2029, and as of that date is repealed.