Nine U.S. Senators signed a letter requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct an assessment of hiring and retention of federal wildland firefighters at the five federal agencies responsible for wildland fire. Those agencies are:
- Forest Service
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Park Service
The Senators, almost 10 percent of all Senators, asked that the GAO make recommendations for how these agencies can improve wildfire prevention and suppression efforts by strengthening the federal firefighting workforce.
Excerpts from the letter:
Wildfires in the West are now a near-constant threat and we can no longer afford to rely on just a seasonal firefighting workforce. Transitioning to a larger, full-time workforce would add immediate capacity to fight wildfires nationwide, allow for greater flexibility in shifting personnel between regions depending on wildfire activity, provide more stable work opportunities and employee benefits, increase employee retention, and reduce agency costs and burdens associated with the seasonal hiring process.
Assess whether OPM should create a new, separate job series and pay scale for federal wildland firefighters to ensure their pay is commensurate with state firefighting agencies and reflects their training requirements and the hazardous conditions they must endure.
The Grassroots Wildland Firefighters had some input into this effort. This is a rapidly growing organization that is becoming a factor in implementing changes that could benefit Forestry and Range Technicians whose primary job is fighting wildland fires.
This is the organization’s mission:
The Grassroots Wildland Firefighter Committee is dedicated to promoting and advocating for Federal Wildland Fire personnel titled Forestry Technicians and Range Technicians. Our mission is to advocate for proper classification, pay, benefits and comprehensive well being. Our mission is to educate the public, generate support and provide solutions to our federal representatives through policy reform.
The three-page letter written by the Senators is below. To scroll to the additional pages, click on or hover your mouse over the document then click on the down arrow at bottom-left.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://wildfiretoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Letter-to-GAO-Federal-Firefighting-Workforce.pdf” title=”Letter to GAO – Federal Firefighting Workforce”]