Senate Bill No. 155
(By Senators Tomblin (Mr. President) and Buckalew
By Request of the Executive)
[Introduced January 15, 1998; 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; limited liability of firefighters.
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. Neither the state, nor any
agency of the state, nor any duly authorized firefighter
complying with, or reasonably attempting to comply with, this
article, except in cases of willful misconduct, shall be 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 or her 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
authorized forest firefighters.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.