This act will implement reforms to the Federal land management agency fire programs in order to address the complexities of 21st century wildfires in a more cost-effective and efficient manner.
Federal firefighters are actually only classified as "Forestry Technicians" at this time. They have been experiencing a pay freeze for years, yet continue to work long hours away from their homes for weeks, getting compensated for only a fraction of the time that they are working on the fire lines and sleeping in the dirt. Meanwhile, their fellow firefighters who work for other state and local agencies are compensated for the entire time they are away from their duty stations and families. Federal firefighters are highly trained professionals who are called upon year round to respond to a wide variety of incidents not limited to wildland fires. If things continue this way, more and more highly trained individuals will leave the federal agencies that spend huge amounts of money to train them in order to go work for state and local industry that will pay them appropriately. Meanwhile, fires on federal land continue to burn larger, with more extreme fire behavior threatening more and more homes each year.
This bill is not only about compensation, it is about retaining skilled and devoted firefighters for the agency that trains them. When skilled and experienced leaders are retained, our firefighters are kept safe in the field. This is also about recognizing wildland firefighters for what they have always been. Please take the time to read this bill in its entirety, and support the firefighters who are selflessly sacrificing their lives to protect our lives, homes, and natural resources. Thank You!
To read the latest text of this bill, go to lhttp://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2858/text