June 22, 2022

President Biden Announcement Enacts Key Elements From Rep. Neguse Bill—Tim’s Act—to Improve Conditions for Federal Firefighters

Funds to be drawn from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve working conditions & compensation for federal wildland firefighters.

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, President Biden announced that funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will temporarily increase federal wildland firefighter pay, and he will implement other proposals that incentivize firefighter retention rates and improve upon current working conditions. Congressman Neguse’s landmark bipartisan legislation with Rep. Liz Cheney, Tim’s Act, includes similar proposals. Read more on his bill here.

“With wildfires now taking place year-round, we must provide our federal wildland firefighting crews with the resources, pay, and services necessary to make it possible for them to do their jobs. The dangerous conditions that the brave men and women battling these wildfires face are strenuous and life-threatening. To retain and recruit the best in the field we must provide a livable wage, and one that reflects the hazardous conditions they endure and the extensive training required of them.” said Congressman Neguse. “While I am heartened by the Biden administration’s announcement on steps to support and expand our firefighting workforce — including implementing multiple solutions we’ve proposed in Tim’s Act—we must do far more. As Chair of the Public Lands Subcommittee, I look forward to continuing to partner with the administration and my colleague to support firefighters and ensure our communities have the federal resources they need to tackle these wildfires, including pushing for the full enactment of Tim’s Act.”

President Biden announced that he has extended the raise to federal wildland firefighter pay to at least $15 an hour for the next two fiscal years, an initiative he first announced in June 2021. The raise, announced today, is retroactive to 2021. Neguse’s bill, Tim’s Act, would increase starting wages to $20 an hour; and adds compensation “portal-to-portal”, increasing annual pay by at least $20,000. 

Other Tim’s Act proposals packaged in President Biden’s announcement on federal wildland firefighter pay include:

  • Creating new supports for firefighters. Establishing year-round prevention and mental health training for wildland firefighters and creating critical incident stress management staffing response.

  • Improving recruitment and retention. The announcement supports a new firefighter pay structure that is both sufficiently competitive and equitable to address long standing nationwide recruitment and retention challenges and that considers the long work shifts, pressures, and risks associated with these jobs. 

  • Establishing new wildland fire management occupations series. OPM created the Wildland Fire Management occupational series established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The new occupational series will define the duties of wildland firefighters and is responsive to the calls of firefighters and their unions to provide opportunities for career advancement. It also gives a boost to recruiting, as agencies can now post clear job opportunity announcements that specifically target people interested in wildland firefighting jobs. And it will help with retention, as our wildland firefighter workforce will benefit from a clear career path with detailed requirements for advancement, providing wildland firefighters with a job title and description that more accurately reflects their contributions. Occupational series provisions are identical to those in Tim’s Act. 

View a comprehensive fact sheet on Tim’s Act HERE

Background

In November, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, historic legislation to invest in the economy, rebuild crumbling roads and bridges and ensure American communities can compete in the 21st Century. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will: repair roads and bridges—with the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system itself—invest in public transit and rail, expand broadband—ensuring every American has access to reliable high-speed internet; and secure clean water for our children. Thanks to the advocacy and leadership of Congressman Neguse, the bill also includes key priorities for the west – funds for wildfire prevention, a pay raise for federal wildland firefighters, and investments in collaborative forest programs, such as the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership.

Colorado is already set to receive the following in federal funding from the historic law:

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