April 29, 2022

Neguse presses for higher pay for wildland firefighters

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, along with several House colleagues, is urging Congress to raise the pay for federal wildland firefighters as they battle tinder-dry conditions across the country, particularly in the West. 

In Colorado, experts say the conditions have cranked up April's fire risk to what the state would normally see in the summer. 

In a letter to U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Dave Joyce of Ohio, Neguse noted that federal firefighters are broadly classified as a “forestry technician," in which the entry level pay often starts at $13.45 an hour. Neguse said they should be getting at least $20 per hour.

Pingree chairs the House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee and Joyce is a ranking member. The subcommittee is preparing the fiscal year 2023 budget for agencies under its purview.

"Our federal firefighters answer the call of duty, leaving behind their lives and families for months at a time, working an average of 16-hour daily shifts, sleeping in the dirt, with incredibly limited time off to reset and reconnect with loved ones," Neguse said in a letter also signed by Tom O'Halleran of Arizona, Katie Porter and Ro Khanna of California, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico. 

"Our federal firefighting workforce is severely undercompensated for these sacrifices and their ongoing service," they added. 

By:  Colorado Politics Staff
Source: Colorado Politics