H.R. 7077, Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act
H.R. 7077 would authorize the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to conduct on-site investigations of major fires that result in deaths or economic damages above certain thresholds or fires with unusual or remarkable context. Upon concluding each investigation, the act would require the USFA to issue a public report on its findings to federal, state, and local authorities and make recommendations on how to mitigate future fires. The agency does not currently conduct these types of inspections.
CBO expects that the agency would promulgate regulations that define a major fire as one that causes 10 or more deaths or has damages greater than $10 million. (Since 2015, an average of about 40 fires a year would meet that standard.)
Under the legislation, CBO expects that inspections of fires that meet this definition would be conducted by a team of subject-matter specialists under contract with the USFA, including fire protection engineers, research scientists, fire dynamics experts, building code specialists, building engineers, and other professionals. Using information from the USFA, including the labor costs for those specialists and the amount of time required for an investigation, CBO expects that the agency would investigate an average of seven major fires annually, at an average cost of $400,000 per investigation. In total, CBO estimates the USFA would incur costs of about $3 million annually to pay inspectors, totaling $15 million over the 2023-2027 period.