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Senators introduce bill to help fight wildfires
Several Nebraska senators introduced a bill that would provide more power to help fight wildfires.
The bill comes at a time as Holdrege held its annual mid-winter fire program Sunday.
News 5's Dara Newson was there and spoke with experts about what could be another wicked fire season.
It's a six hour training day program to get volunteer firefighters ready before they hit the fields.
"Some of the classes we had this year are emergency vehicle operation, grain bin rescue, vehicle extrication, fire investigation class, hazardous material awareness class," said Holdrege Volunteer Firefighter Gregg Ericksen.
The 21st Annual Mid-Winter Fire School program was sponsored by the Central Nebraska Volunteer Firefighters Association and CCC of Holdrege.
Gregg Ericksen represents the Holdrege Volunteer Fire Department.
"There were a lot more fires this year that burned a lot more areas than I think what they have in the last few years," Ericksen said.
Last summer fires in western and central Nebraska forced departments to dip into their cash reserves.
"Places out in that part of the country really got their budgets strained, a lot of expenses, maintenance keeping up on the trucks, fuel was a big one," said State Fire Marshall Joe Quinn.
Joe Quinn is the instructor for the State Fire Marshall training division.
He says the drought could make 2013 another nasty year.
"In Garden County alone we had three two 18,000 plus acre fires," Quinn said.
In 2012 there were a number of grass fires and wildfires which also prompted legislative action.
Several senators have rallied together to implement the Wildfire Control Act of 2013.
For use in fighting wildfires LB 634 will provide a number of expanded programs, like a contract for two single engine air tankers to be located near Chadron and Valentine, more man power, and expanded training programs like this for volunteer firefighters.
"Resources are limited in all the communities and we just have to work together throughout the state," Quinn said.
Nine Nebraska senators introduced LB 634, also known as the Wildfire Control Act of 2013.
There will be a hearing on the bill February 22nd.
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