October 30, 2020

Representative Neguse Leads Congressional Letter to Departments of Agriculture and Interior to Strengthen Federal Wildland Fire Worforce

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s Second Congressional District, led a letter alongside several of his Colorado colleagues to Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting several reforms to improve pay, job stability, and benefits for federal wildfire personnel. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representatives Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jason Crow (D-CO), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) also signed the letter, which requests that the Secretaries work with the Office of Personnel Management to review and increase the pay scale for wildland firefighters, increase the entry-level pay of new hires, reclassify seasonal federal firefighter positions as permanent, waive annual salary cap restrictions for personnel working overtime, provide additional paid leave, and expand mental health services.

“As the wildfire season grows longer and more intense, support for wildland fire workforce must be stronger,” said Congressman Neguse. “These brave men and women deserve better pay, full-time employment, and support that matches the immense toll of their job. Improving the benefits offered to our federal wildfire personnel is critical for ensuring that we recruit and retain the workforce we rely on. Improving these benefits for federal employees is just a start. I am committed to improving how the federal government supports our state and local crews as well. The wildland fire workforce is comprised of a diverse group of local, state, federal, and tribal fire fighters that sacrifice so much to keep our communities safe. I remain dedicated to supporting them in whatever way we can.”

“Wildland firefighters are facing dangerous and grueling conditions as they continue to fight wildfires across Colorado and the West,” said Bennet. “They deserve better pay and benefits.”

The letter can be found here.

Over the past several months, the Second Congressional District has experienced five fires, two of which are now the largest and second largest wildfires in Colorado history. In Larimer County, the Cameron Peak fire is now the largest fire in state history, having currently burned 205,004 acres. Boulder County is also dealing with the Calwood Fire, having burned 9,106 acres, and previously the Lefthand Canyon Fire (which is now fully contained). And Grand County is fighting both the East Troublesome Fire, 193,774 acres, and the William Forks Fire, 14,645 acres.