Advocates, lawmakers laud firefighter pay boost

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Federal wildland firefighters finally get long-awaited pay boost, and advocates are relieved.

Fed wildland firefighters finally will get a long-promised boost in pay—and it’s a big one, and retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year.

Having said that, union representatives and lawmakers who have advocated in securing the money have drawn attention to the previously very low wages for most who serve in these difficult and dangerous jobs. To be effective, any bump had to be substantial, they said.

So, the pay raise—which for two years ups the base salary pay of federal wildland firefighters by $20,000 each year (or a 50% rise, whichever is lower) is being widely welcomed by many lawmakers and advocates, led on the labor side by the National Federation of Federal Employees which represents well over 12,000 of them.

Praise also came from Congress. “The actions taken … by President Biden prove just how essential it is to ensure our firefighters earn the pay and dignity they deserve,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, firefighters will soon see a bi-weekly increase in their paychecks of up to 50% of their annual base salary for two years.”

“I applaud this great news for our firefighters, who are on the front lines when we are in need and who bravely serve our communities,” Hoyer continued. “As a proud champion for increased pay for our federal employees, and I am pleased that this issue remains a priority for this administration.”

Lawmakers from the fired-scorched West joined in hailing the pay raise—as well as steps included along with the legislation that enabled it that provide more mental health support, including PTSD, which too often afflicts these frontline lifesavers.

“Our firefighters are heroes who keep our community safe and they deserve to know we’ll always have their backs,” Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.) said. “Today, I’m proud to announce that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I helped get done last year is going to do a world of good for our firefighters.”

“They’ll see a raise of up to $20,000 this year, better support for their mental health, and a brand-new round of recruitment to make sure every firefighting job we have is filled with a great firefighter,” Harder continued. “We have a brutal fire season ahead of us, but this is a critical step toward making sure we’re ready for it.”

NEXT STORY: Roundup: 2023 pay raise update

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