New Bill May Grant New Protections For Prescribed Burnings
What is SB-332?
With the warmer summer months coming to California, it is time to prepare for the wildfire season. Given the devastating effects of last season’s blazes, we can only hope that our state is better prepared to handle sudden fires. It is precisely for this reason that on May 4th, California’s State Senate will begin hearings on Senate Bill 332(SB-332). To encourage private landowners to perform controlled burns of their property, SB-332 proposes a change to the state’s laws. Under SB-332, landowners and their supervising certified burn boss would not be held liable for damages resulting from a lawfully performed prescribed burn.
The need for a system to manage California’s summer wildfire season is evident to any of its residents. In recent years, California citizens have witnessed their state engulfed in flames. Southen California, Nothern California, and the Central Coast have all watched their skies darken with ash during the wildfire season. The most effective way, at the moment, to combat these fires is to reduce the amount of hazardous fuel(dead trees, dry brush) available in the state. As a fire prevention method, it is as effective as it is old.
The amount of dry material available as fuel for a fire has only increased in recent years due to the state’s unprecedented drought. As a result, each passing year only leads to larger and more devasting fires. To prevent this, California’s State Fire Marshal has begun to develop a curriculum that would produce fire bosses capable of overseeing prescribed burnings. Once the state has enough fire bosses, the challenge will be to make sure the burnings themselves occur. One of the most prominent points of contention lies in the culpability of a landowner and fire boss whose fires cause unwanted damage.
The practice of burning excess fire fuel before wildfire season has been around for centuries, if not millennia. Present-day landowners, especially those that own ranches, use fire to eliminate unnecessary brush every year.
Why is it then that the rights of California’s citizens need to be limited for these new fire bosses to do their jobs? If passed later this year, SB-332 will sacrifice the rights of Californian citizens to sue for damages to allow the state to do a job that many of its citizens already perform. Should we not be allowed to hold the state accountable when its failures cause property damage or, worse, death?
At the Law Offices of John Hernandez, we believe that the people should always retain the right to be compensated after an injury. The least the State of California can do is ensure that those affected by a prescribed burn are taken care of by the state itself. If you find yourself in need of help after being injured, be sure to contact the Law Offices of John Hernandez at (626)349-4214.