For Throwback Thursday, an issue that was a serious problem in 2008 has gotten much worse since we published this article on Wildfire Today February 14, 2008.
The Associated Press is picking up on the pay and retention issues the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies are facing in California. The USFS is losing a great many experienced firefighters to CalFire and other fire departments in the state who pay much higher salaries than the federal agencies.
From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“WASHINGTON – A top federal official acknowledged Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service is losing federal firefighters in California to state and county departments that pay more.
But Agriculture Department Undersecretary Mark Rey, who directs U.S. forest policy, told concerned lawmakers he’s still evaluating how much of a problem that is. “On the one hand you hate to lose trained people. On the other hand they’re still fighting fires under a unified command system,” Rey told a hearing of the House Appropriations Interior subcommittee. “They’re going to be on the fire line along with the federal firefighters.”
Lawmakers convinced there is a problem ordered the Forest Service to come up with a plan by Feb. 1 to increase recruitment and retention for Southern California forests. That deadline has passed but the agency is working on it, officials said.”