Senate Bill No. 317
(By Senators Plymale, Helmick,
Miller, Ross, Whitlow and Anderson)
[Introduced February 7, 1996; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section four, article three, chapter
twenty of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to limiting
liability of authorized forest firefighters.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section four, article three, chapter twenty of the code
of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3. FORESTS AND WILDLIFE AREAS.
§20-3-4. Authority and duties of director and others as to
forest fires; expenditures for forest fire control.
Upon receiving notice of any fire which is injuring or
endangering forest land within the state, the director, the state forester, or their duly authorized representative, shall employ
all necessary means to confine, extinguish or suppress the fire.
For these purposes such persons and their employees shall, under
the general supervision of the director, have the right and
authority to enter upon public or private lands, to destroy
fences thereon, to plow such lands, and in case of extreme
emergency, to set backfires thereon. Except in cases of willful
misconduct, neither the state, nor any agency of the state, nor
any duly authorized firefighter complying with, or reasonably
attempting to comply with this article, is liable for the death
of, or injury to, any person or for damage to any property as a
result of such activity. The state forester and any duly
authorized representative may, under the general supervision of
the director, employ persons to detect fires which may injure or
endanger forest land, and may likewise summon or employ persons
to assist in extinguishing such fires, who shall be paid for the
actual time so employed, at a rate per hour to be determined by
the director: Provided, That the rate per hour shall not exceed
the rate per hour paid for any comparable labor or skills by the
department of natural resources. Any person so summoned who
shall fail or refuse to assist in extinguishing any such fire shall, unless such failure or refusal to assist is due to
physical inability, be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Expenditures for detecting, confining, extinguishing or
suppressing fires described in this section shall be charged
against the state. The state forester or his agent shall render
to the director, as soon as practicable, a sworn statement with
the names of all persons who were summoned or employed to assist
in fighting such fires, the time so spent by each, as well as the
names of persons who furnished equipment, subsistence or
supplies, or transportation therefor, and the amount of money due
each for such services, subsistence, supplies or transportation.
Requisitions shall be issued and payment of the sums due shall be
made in the same manner as is provided for the making of other
expenditures by the director.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to limit the liability of
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.