March 29, 2022
The National Special Districts Coalition Legislative Committee authorized during its March 2022 meeting a working group provide solutions to issues pertaining to firefighting infrastructure.
The Coalition's decision to establish the working group is predicated on feedback from various NSDC Members and special districts underscoring a need to address the lack of sustainable and efficient water infrastructure to accommodate firefighting needs. The establishment of the working group coincides with NSDC's declaration of support for H.R. 3728 (Pascrell), which would authorize a new $1 billion Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program to construct, enhance, or repair facilities for fire protection, fire training, and EMS services.
Special districts providing fire protection and water services have shared with NSDC wide-ranging concerns on their efforts to provide adequate services to meet fire protection needs in the communities they serve. While some federal programs, such as FEMA's Assistance or Firefighter Grants (AFG) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development's Community Facilities grants, may be used to meet related limited needs in communities, many needs go unmet to address adequate fire flow in water systems or to secure adequate non-potable water supplies in communities where water infrastructure may not exist.
The Water Infrastructure for Firefighting Working Group's mission will entail identifying ground-level problems and needs for each fire and water agencies to tackle this issue, then collaborating on potential solutions. The NSDC Advocacy Team will collaborate with the working group to produce formal recommendations to mitigate or resolve common needs the group identifies. The report will be used for federal legislative and/or regulatory advocacy covering this issue area.
The working group will consist of two special district stakeholders providing fire protection services and two special district stakeholders providing water services from each NSDC member organization with an even balance of rural/wildland-urban interface and urban/suburban providers.
NSDC member associations will report their appointments to the working group no later than Friday, April 8.
Ideal members of the working group must be directly affiliated with special districts that are members of NSDC member organizations and, at minimum:
- Possess experience in management and/or execution of district fire protection and/or water services.
- Understand the issues and similar needs between fire and water infrastructure providers to provide adequate service to suppress or mitigate fire activity within their communities.
- Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with inter-agency partners on innovative solutions to issues facing their communities.
- Have direct knowledge or experience with issues related to water infrastructure for firefighting.
- Be actively engaged in legislative advocacy on issues of importance to special districts.
- Have availability for working group meetings.
The Working Group will be divided into a water stakeholder sub-group and a fire stakeholder-subgroup. All district stakeholders will meet virtually on at least four occasions, as follows:
- Water stakeholders: Wednesday, April 13, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- Fire stakeholders: Thursday, April 14, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- Water stakeholders: Wednesday, April 20, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- Fire stakeholders: Thursday, April 21, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- Full Working Group: Wednesday, April 27, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- Full Working Group: Thursday, May 5, 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT
- If needed, full Working Group: Thursday, May 12, 3 p.m. ET / Noon PT