June 30, 2021

Congressman Neguse Applauds Biden Announcement on Raising Firefighter Pay

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands issued the following statement, welcoming an announcement today from President Joe Biden that his Administration plans to raise pay for federal firefighters.

In October 2020, Congressman Neguse sent a letter to the Department of Interior in the midst of Colorado’s record-breaking wildfire season, calling for the Department to coordinate with the Office of Personnel Management to review and increase the pay scale for all federal wildland firefighters. 

“As wildfire seasons turn into wildfire years, exacerbated by the growing threat of climate change, our firefighters are put in increasingly dangerous conditions, battling more intense and more devastating wildfires. In 2020, as Colorado experienced a record-setting wildfire season, our local fire crews were in the field for weeks working to suppress the largest wildfires in state history. Now more than ever, this critical profession must receive a comfortable, livable wage, one that reflects the hazardous conditions they endure and the extensive training required of them,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Last fall, as the Cameron Peak, East Troublesome, Calwood, Lefthand Canyon and Williams Forks Fire burned in our district, we called on the Department of Interior to review the pay scale for federal firefighters, something I believe to be absolutely critical to support and expand our firefighting workforce. I applaud President Biden’s action today to raise federal firefighter pay to at least $15 an hour, and look forward to continuing to partner with his Administration to support firefighters and ensure our communities have the federal resources they need to tackle these wildfires. Additionally, my office plans to introduce legislation this summer to further raise firefighter pay and support our fire crews.”  

Background

As Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Congressman Neguse has made tackling western wildfires a key component of his “Restoring Our Lands and Communities” Agenda. Congressman Neguse’s proposal to launch a reimagined 21st Century Climate Conservation Corps would make historic investments in wildfire suppression, mitigation, resilience and response. Earlier this year, Neguse launched the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus to elevate conversations around this issue in Congress. He is leading the Wildfire Recovery Act and Climate Resilient Communities Act, legislation to help communities build back better in the wake of wildfires and flooding. 

In 2020 as Colorado experienced a record wildfire season, Congressman Neguse worked in close coordination with local firefighters and emergency management officials to ensure that communities in the 2nd Congressional District had the federal funds they needed to contain these wildfires and recover. He helped secure FEMA funds for containment efforts of the Calwood, East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires. In January, Congressman Neguse helped secure a disaster declaration designation for Colorado’s wildfires to bring in more resources for the state. In April 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified, Congressman Neguse was successful in ensuring firefighters and first responders be given priority for COVID-19 tests. 

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