September 22, 2021

Neguse Secures Waiver for Firefighter Overtime Pay and Funding for 2020 Colorado Wildfires in Disaster Supplemental

Washington D.C. —Last night, Congressman Joe Neguse helped secure essential provisions to support wildfire prevention and wildland firefighters in the Continuing Resolution and Disaster Supplemental which passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Neguse secured a provision to waive limitations on overtime and premium pay for wildland firefighters. As well, he helped secure $28.6 billion for emergency disaster funding, including for post-fire recovery for the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires in Colorado.

Last week, Congressman Neguse, who serves as Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, led a letter to members of House and Senate leadership requesting the pay waiver for federal firefighters. The U.S. Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture have indicated that as many as 500 positions could hit statutory pay caps by the end of the calendar year, effectively preventing impacted individuals from accepting fire assignments even as wildfires continue to burn around the country. Congress has previously provided similar waivers including for federal employees responding to coronavirus. 

“As our Colorado communities continue to experience the threat of intense wildfires and recover from the record-setting 2020 wildfire season, we are doing all we can in Congress to bring home federal resources for wildfire prevention and recovery,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The overtime pay waiver for federal firefighters we have secured will allow necessary authorities to keep our most qualified and credentialed wildfire personnel on the job with due compensation. Additionally, funds for emergency watershed protection and forest restoration will help our local communities as they recover from the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires, protecting local water supplies and reducing the threat of new wildfires.” 

The $28.6 billion in emergency disaster funding includes: 

  • $710 million for forest restoration and post fire-recovery;
  • $275 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to protect local water supplies in areas that face the threat of wildfire or are recovering from wildfire;  
  • $210 million for water and related resources due to unprecedented drought, including $10 million for fire prevention and suppression; 
  • $100 million for wildland fire management; 
  • $92.8 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for expenses related to hurricanes and wildfires; 
  • $50 million for state and private forestry, and
  • $25 million for forest and rangeland research.