October 25, 2021

Neguse-Cheney Firefighter Pay Raise Legislation to Be Considered in Legislative Hearing

Washington D.C. —On Wednesday October 27, ahead of National First Responders Day, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will host a hearing on firefighter pay and benefits. The hearing primarily will consider his legislation, the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act to raise federal wildland firefighter pay, ensure essential benefits and address classification. The legislation was introduced less than a week ago, showing record speed for moving legislation through the House of Representatives. 

The bill is named after Tim Hart, a smokejumper from Cody, Wyoming who lost his life on May 24, 2021 while working on the Eicks Fire in New Mexico. More about the legislation is here. 

WHO: 

Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands

Jaelith Hall-Rivera, Associate Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry, USDA, Forest Service

Jeffery Rupert (Expected), Director, Office of Wildland Fire, U.S. Department of the Interior

Kelly Martin, President of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters

Lucas Tanner Mayfield, former wildland firefighter and Vice President of Grassroots Wildland Firefighters

Matt Dias (Minority Witness), President and CEO of California Forestry Association

WHAT: Legislative Hearing on Wildland Firefighter Pay and Reforms

WHEN: October 27, 2021 at 10:00am ET/8:00am MT 

WHERE: 1324 Longworth House Office Building and streamed online HERE.

“As the impacts of climate change worsen, wildfire seasons are turning increasingly more devastating. Last year in my district, our communities experienced the first and second largest wildfires in Colorado history, burning hundreds of thousands of acres for multiple months. As these wildfires grow larger and last longer, 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. This must change,” said Rep. Joe Neguse. “The Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act, will overhaul the system as it stands, by raising federal firefighter pay to at least $57,000 annually, ensuring health care and mental health services, increased paid leave and retirement benefits and ensuring firefighters are provided appropriate lodging while on duty. In the west, our communities are depending on our fire crews to keep us safe and reduce the threat of wildfire — federal firefighters should be able to rely on the federal government for livable wages and healthy work conditions in return.”

“I'm proud to join Rep. Neguse in leading this effort to recognize the needs of our brave wildland firefighters who risk their lives to keep our lands and our families safe. I'm also proud that this legislation honors Tim Hart, a Cody native who we tragically lost earlier this year battling the Eicks Fire,” said Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). “Across the West, smokejumpers and their families make so many sacrifices on behalf of us all, and it's critically important that we take steps to ensure that they receive adequate compensation for the dangerous work they undertake on a daily basis. This bill would take important steps in this regard, while also providing access to essential benefits. I'm hopeful we can secure broad bipartisan support for this legislation that shows Congress will not turn a blind eye to the courage and valor of our wildland firefighters.”

“Many of our state's recent record-breaking fires have happened on federal land, so keeping California families safe requires that we modernize our federal firefighter workforce,” Rep. Katie Porter said. “I am proud to join Congressman Neguse to introduce legislation to provide federal firefighters with competitive pay, adequate leave, quality health care, and stable housing. This is the right thing to do for our brave firefighters, who risk their lives to protect our communities.”

“Tim would be humbled and honored to have this legislation be a part of his legacy and to represent the hard work and sacrifice of thousands of wildland firefighters,” said Michelle Hart, Tim Hart’s widow. “These issues were deeply important and personal to him. Wildland firefighters deserve to be recognized and compensated for the grueling conditions in which they work and for putting their lives on the line every day. This legislation is a major step forward in achieving that goal.”

The bill is supported by Grassroots Wildland Firefighters, U.S. Hotshots Association, National Smokejumper Association, Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Eric Marsh Foundation for Wildland Firefighters, National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), Mystery Ranch Backpacks and Team Rubicon. 

Read the bill text HERE. 

View fact sheet HERE. 

The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Liz Cheney, Katie Porter and Salud Carbajal.