For next fiscal year President proposes budget stability for firefighters, cuts for fire aviation

The number of firefighters would remain at 10,000, with cuts to air tankers and helicopters

CL-215 and CL-415
A CL-215 and CL-415 scoop water from Snowbank Lake in 2011 while working on the Pagami Creek fire in Minnesota in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. Photo by Kristi Marshall for the Superior National Forest

The budget recommended by President Trump for the U.S. Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2019 beginning in October includes stable numbers for wildland firefighters and cuts in fire aviation.

The FY19 firefighter numbers would be the same as in the two previous years, FY17 and FY18:

  • 900 Engines
  • 210 Dozers, Tractor Plows, and Water Tenders
  • 67 Hot Shot Crews (1,340 firefighters)
  • 7,940 other Firefighters
  • 320 Smoke Jumpers
  • 400 Fire Prevention Technicians

The firefighters above total 10,000, the same as in the last several years.

The only FY19 cuts recommended by the President to firefighting resources are in aviation:

  • 28 Type 1 large Helicopters, down from 34 in FY17, and the same as in FY18.
  • “Up to 18” Large Air Tankers, down from 20 in FY17 and up from 13 in FY18.
  • No HC-130H Coast Guard/USFS converted air tankers, down from one. The President intends to abandon this program.
  • No Water Scooping Air Tankers. There were two in FY17 and none in FY18.

These cuts are in spite of the fact that the number of acres burned annually in the United States continues to increase.

total acres burned wildfires United States 1990-2017

fire budget FY19 resources summary
Click to enlarge.

This recommended budget for the Forest Service is only a suggestion by the President. Congress is not obligated to respect his wishes and could do anything from passing a series of continuing resolutions locking in  budget numbers from the previous year, to passing something completely different. Or, doing nothing and shutting down the government again.

The table above shows numbers of resources. Below are dollars.

fire budget FY19 dollars
Click to enlarge.

More information about the reduction in firefighting aircraft.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “For next fiscal year President proposes budget stability for firefighters, cuts for fire aviation”

  1. So next up: the Chief goes to answer questions before Congress. Smart Congress Person asks “what are the consequences of these cuts?” Chief answers truthfully (he’s under Oath) and Congress restores funds. Let the Mating Dances commence.

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