The 2012 Washington State Legislature appropriated funding to conduct a detailed analysis of potential mechanisms for reducing the amount of and variation in the state’s fire suppression costs. The desired analysis consists of two parts:
An examination of Oregon’s excess forest fire suppression cost insurance program and an analysis of the potential application of this model for Washington, and
An examination of Washington’s total and marginal costs related to staffing and overtime to determine whether these total or marginal costs are in excess of market rates.
Based on this direction, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) developed a scope of work that incorporated the legislature’s objectives to address two issues: the variability in wildfire suppression budget requirements and fire suppression labor costs. After a competitive selection process, WSIPP contracted with FCS GROUP to conduct the analysis, and the FCS GROUP team worked primarily with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to gather data and information. In addition, FCS GROUP held discussions with key external DNR stakeholders such as the Washington Forest Protection Association, Farm Forestry Association and Weyerhaeuser, and conducted a comparative analysis of how similar programs in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, British Columbia, and the United States Forest Service funded and managed their fire suppression expenditures. This report details this analysis and presents findings from FCS.