BLM to convert hundreds of seasonal forestry technicians who fight fire to permanent positions

BLM engine crew members
BLM engine crew members mopping up on the BLM Trout Springs Prescribed Fire in southwest Idaho, Sept. 13, 2019. BLM photo.

The Bureau of Land Management is implementing direction from Congress to convert hundreds of their employees who fight wildland fires from seasonal to permanent status. Most of the federal government’s wildland firefighters are inappropriately in positions titled Forestry Technician or Range Technician.

Historically, the BLM’s wildland fire workforce was seasonally based. However, a new model is intended to address the escalating workforce needs due to climate change intensifying fire activity. In a news release the BLM said this model will also provide employees with career stability and upward mobility to promote work-life balance and long-term careers in wildfire or resource management.

The BLM received $13 million in its 2021 fiscal year budget which began October 1, 2020 to begin workforce transformation, which involves adding 76 new firefighters and support personnel who sustain the wildland fire management mission. The BLM will also convert 428 existing seasonal positions to permanent and/or year-round positions. Overall, the U.S. Department of the Interior received $29 million to carry out “DOI’s Plan to Transform the Firefighting Workforce.”

Other agencies in the DOI with wildland firefighting responsibilities are National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The US Forest Service also has thousands of Forestry Technicians whose primary jobs are fighting fire, with many of them being seasonal. All five of the agencies were directed by Congress to convert some of their seasonals to permanent and/or year-round.

“The ultimate goal of workforce transformation is to attract and retain a diverse group of quality employees – dedicated people who will not only help manage fires and fuels in support of BLM’s multiple-use mission, but who have the potential to become the Bureau’s future leaders,” said BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs Nada Culver. “Our people are our most important resource, and this workforce transformation effort will result in more career opportunities and benefits for our wildland firefighters – those who work hard to keep the public safe and to protect our public lands.”

The BLM Fire program is planning to continue this transformation effort next fiscal year and beyond in hopes of fully transforming its workforce in the coming years.

“The fire activity we’ve experienced in 2021 and previous years reinforces the need for transforming a sizeable portion of our largely seasonal fire organization to permanent positions, though widespread change will not happen overnight,”said BLM Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation Grant Beebe.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Rick.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

5 thoughts on “BLM to convert hundreds of seasonal forestry technicians who fight fire to permanent positions”

  1. GOOOD For them

    With all those REMOTE station…it’ll be easier to gut.

    Dept of Interior LEADS again!!

    1. A few years ago it was sage grouse now this. They’ll be permanent until they aren’t and a RIF is implemented due to the needed money drying up. Hopefully it works out.


Comments are closed.