Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-31st District) visited Fontana on Aug. 2 to express his support for legislation that he said will help local firefighters as they face the constant threat of wildfires.
Aguilar, joined by San Bernardino County Fire Chief Dan Munsey, spoke at a press conference at Fire Station 79 in the northwestern corner of the city.
Afterward, they took a tour of the nearby area in Lytle Creek which was impacted by the South Fire, which resulted in evacuations and lost homes last year.
Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and City Councilmember Jesse Sandoval, along with several firefighters, attended the event.
âFires donât know boundaries between our local cities, our county, and our federal and state lands. We need to make sure we are giving all the resources we can to our local agencies to help mitigate and protect lives and property. Thatâs exactly what they do right here at Station 79, and Iâm appreciative of their efforts,â Aguilar said.
Munsey said the support of the state and federal governments is vital because the county has been ravaged by dozens of major wildfires during his 27 years with the department.
Aguilar voted in favor of the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act (H.R. 5118), which passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
Aguilar said H.R. 5118 is a comprehensive package of bills that takes necessary action to protect communities from wildfires and protect water supplies. The bill boosts pay and benefits for federal firefighters, establishes a 10-year plan for wildfire management, advances modern water management technology and data and invests in drought-proof water supply projects.
âWildfires have become a year-round threat, particularly in our communities, burning larger areas of land with greater intensity,â Aguilar said in a statement. âWildfires are only expected to get worse because of extreme drought conditions. Passing this bill ensures that the Inland Empire and other areas affected by severe wildfires are equipped with the resources they need to preemptively address wildfire risk and shore up our nationâs depleted water supplies. We cannot wait any longer to act on climate change, the health of our planet depends on it.â
In 2021 alone, the effects of both drought and wildfires have cost the United States roughly $20 billion. More than 2.5 million acres of land in California were burned because of wildfires last year.
Earlier this year, Aguilar voted for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $84 million to California over the next five years to create a wildfire management plan.