Padilla Announces Santa Rosa Fire Chief Scott Westrope as Virtual Guest for State of the Union Address

Padilla speaks to State of the Union guest Fire Chief Scott Westrope

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced Santa Rosa Fire Chief Scott Westrope as his virtual guest to President Biden’s first State of the Union address. Westrope has served in the Santa Rosa Fire Department for 22 years and has been at the forefront in combatting California’s increasingly long and devastating wildfire seasons and lost his own home to the Tubbs Fire in 2017.

“It is an honor to be joined by Chief Westrope for President Biden’s first State of the Union address,” said Senator Padilla. “As the climate crisis continues to intensify California’s wildfire season, we are fortunate to have outstanding leaders like him who understand the importance of preparing for and addressing the impacts of wildfires in our state. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law brought badly needed resources to wildfire mitigation in our state, and we must do more to meet this challenge. I look forward to continuing to work with Chief Westrope to ensure that the full resources of the federal government are put to work for our communities including by enacting my bill, the FIRE Act.”

“After over 22 years with the Santa Rosa Fire Department, I have come to know first-hand how critical it is that we invest meaningfully in long-term solutions for wildfire mitigation and prevention practices in California and across the western United States,” said Fire Chief Westrope. “I’m grateful for the investments and commitment the Biden administration has made to mitigate and better manage wildfires through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I look forward to continuing my partnership with Senator Padilla to ensure that California has the resources it needs to protect communities across the state. That’s why I am happy to support the FIRE Act to make sure the federal government can respond quickly to wildfires in our region.”

A California native, Fire Chief Westrope grew up in San Luis Obispo County. He previously worked for the Pismo Beach Fire Department and for the San Luis Obispo ambulance service. He moved to Sonoma County in 2000 for a firefighting post and now lives with his family in Larkfield, California. He was selected as fire chief in 2021.

Senator Padilla met with Fire Chief Westrope last August during a discussion and listening roundtable with local leaders in Santa Rosa on wildfire prevention, response, and recovery efforts. The roundtable helped inform Senator Padilla’s FIRE Act, which recently made it out of committee and proceeds to the full Senate for consideration. The bill would improve FEMA’s response to wildfires, by accounting for the unique damage of wildfires, including melted infrastructure and burned trees, as well as allowing FEMA to pre-deploy assets during times of highest wildfire risk and red flag warnings.

In his first year in office, Padilla has made improving the federal response to wildfires one of his top priorities. He introduced a package of bills aimed at ensuring California has the federal resources it needs to protect communities impacted by wildfire smoke and is leading legislation aimed at battling wildfires, protecting workers, and helping combat the effects of wildfire smoke. Padilla also successfully advocated for California to receive billions for wildfire response and drought relief in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest $5 billion for land management and specifically $3.4 billion for wildfire risk reduction projects, hazardous fuels management, wildfire defense grants to at-risk communities, and to increase federal firefighter salary and staffing levels to help put out fires faster.