§20-3-25. Governor's authority to execute.
The governor of West Virginia, on behalf of this state, is hereby authorized to execute a compact in substantially the following form, with any one or more of the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the Legislature hereby signifies in advance its approval and ratification of such compact:
MIDDLE ATLANTIC INTERSTATE FOREST FIRE
The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the middle Atlantic region of the United States by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest fire-fighting services by the member states, and by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the compacting states of the region and with states which are party to other regional forest fire protection compacts or agreements.
This compact shall become operative immediately as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia which are contiguous have ratified it and Congress has given consent thereto.
In each state, the state forester or officer holding the equivalent position who is responsible for forest fire control shall act as compact administrator for that state and shall consult with like officials of the other member states and shall implement cooperation between such states in forest fire prevention and control.
The compact administrators of the member states shall organize to coordinate the services of the member states and provide administrative integration in carrying out the purposes of this compact.
The compact administrators shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the member states.
It shall be the duty of each member state to formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and take such measures as may be necessary to integrate such forest fire plan with the regional forest fire plan formulated by the compact administrators.
Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.
Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.
No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith.
All liability, except as otherwise provided hereinafter, that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall beassumed and borne by the requesting state.
Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and maintenance of employees and equipment incurred in connection with such request: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other costs or from loaning such equipment or from donating such services to the receiving member state without charge or cost.
Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state: Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed as relieving any person from liability for his own negligent act or omission, or as imposing liability for such negligent act or omission upon any state.
For the purposes of this compact the term "employee" shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire-fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.
The compact administrators shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article, in accordance with the laws of the member states.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to authorize or permit any member state to curtail or diminish its forest fire-fighting forces, equipment, services or facilities, and it shall be the duty and responsibility of each member state to maintain adequate forest fire-fighting forces and equipment to meet demands for forest fire protection within its borders in the same manner and to the same extent as if this compact were not operative.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between the United States forest service and a member state or states.
The compact administrators may request the United States forest service to act as the primary research and coordinating agency of the middle Atlantic interstate forest fire protection compact in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state, and the United States forest service may accept the initial responsibility in preparing and presenting to the compact administrators its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of the United States forest service may attend meetings of the compact administrators.
The provisions of articles four and five of this compact which relate to mutual aid in combating, controlling or preventing forest fires shall be operative as between any state party to this compact and any other state which is party to a regional forest fire protection compact in another region: Provided, That the Legislature of such other state shall have given its assent to such mutual aid provisions of this compact.
This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the Legislature or the governor of such state takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until six months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executive of all states then parties to the compact.