When natural disasters, such as wildfires strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet the immediate needs of survivors.
In the case of the ongoing Texas wildfires, first responders and firefighters from more than 30 states continue to battle the blazes. We sincerely commend their heroic efforts to protect public health and safety, fighting the fire to minimize damage to lives, property and critical infrastructure.
Through our regional office in Denton, Texas we are continuing to closely partner with the state of Texas providing financial support for ongoing efforts to fight and mitigate the volatile wildfire conditions.
During this fire season, the federal government continues to support the state of Texas with 22 Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) declarations, including 16 FMAGs since the beginning of April.
So what is an FMAG, and how does it support the efforts of first responders and firefighters?
Basically, FMAG’s provide financial assistance so firefighters and first responders can focus all their efforts on reducing the negative impacts of the fire. An FMAG authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs, under an approved grant structure.
Loveland, CO, September 13, 2010 -- Firefighting helicopter hovering over a lake. Heavy air tankers work on hot spots on the Reservoir Road Fire just west of the town of Loveland. FEMA authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Reservoir Road Fire.
Items eligible for FMAGs can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.
In case you’re interested in the specifics, the program allows for the “mitigation, management, and control” of fires burning on publicly or privately owned forest or grasslands which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. FMAGs are provided through the President's Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster.
A note on FMAGs: These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire. A Governor must make a request for a major disaster declaration, including individual assistance, to receive federal disaster assistance for individual home or business owners.
If you’re in an area that may be impacted by wildfires, remember these safety tips:
- Listen to and follow the guidance of state and local officials. If authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by local officials.
- Create an area of “defensible space” around your home. Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc.
- If you’re caught in the open during a wildfire, The best temporary shelter is in a sparse fuel area. Clear fuel away from the area while the fire is approaching and then lie face down in the depression and cover yourself. Stay down until after the fire passes.