President Biden visits National Interagency Fire Center

In Boise, Idaho

5:08 p.m. PDT Sept. 13, 2021

President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021
President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021.

President Biden visited two locations in the West Monday to gather information about the current wildfire situation. His first stop was in Boise where he became the first US President to visit the National Interagency Fire Center since it was created 50 years ago.

During a tour of NIFC he talked with a group of smokejumpers and the President was seen holding a pulaski fire tool. Later, sitting in front of what looked like shelves of parachutes he met with Idaho Governor Brad Little, George Geissler of the National Association of State Foresters, and Grant Beebe, BLM’s Assistant Director for Fire and Aviation. The President said Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley intended to be there but their flight was cancelled due to weather.

President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021
President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021.

Mr. Biden praised wildland firefighters for the work they do and reiterated that he is committed to raising their pay. The full text of his public remarks at Boise are below, but here is an excerpt:

The fact is that we’re in a situation where too many memorials are — have been held. And I’ve directed my administration to provide for pay bonuses and incentives to ensure every federal firefighter — because that’s the only authority I have — makes at least $15 an hour. I mean, they should make a hell of a lot — heck of a lot more, but at least $15 an hour. And I’m committing to work with Congress to raise the pay gap for federal wildland firefighters.

And so, you know, believe it or not, there’s massive shortage of fire hoses. I think you all get it. But the idea that we went into this fire season with a shortage of fire hoses — that’s all I heard from my guys back East and in the Midwest: no fire hoses.

Well, fortunately, they thought a long time ago about a thing called the National Defense Act. And what I was able to do — excuse me, the Defense Production Act.

And I was able to restart production of bringing — bringing a lot of people back to work, delivering 21,920 new feet of fire hose in the frontlines, putting a company back to work that was out of business that stopped — stopped manufacturing.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the administration’s use of the Defense Production Act helped an Oklahoma City nonprofit called NewView Oklahoma, which provides the bulk of the U.S. Forest Service’s hose, obtain needed supplies to produce and ship 415 miles of fire hose. If that is correct, two zeros should be added to the 21,920 feet mentioned by the President, making it 2,192,000, which is 415 miles.

President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021
President Biden at NIFC Sept. 13, 2021. L to R: Idaho Gov. Brad Little, President Biden, Grant Beebe (BLM).

About two hours after Air Force One landed, it departed for Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento. After landing he visited California’s Office of Emergency Services and received a briefing on the wildfires in the state. At one point a map of the Caldor Fire was displayed on a large screen. The plan was for the President to then take an aerial tour of a fire in El Dorado County, the location of the huge 210,000-acre Caldor Fire. And following that, more public remarks about wildland fire.

President Biden receives briefing about the Caldor and other fires
President Biden receives briefing about the Caldor and other fires in California after flying to Mather AFB, Sept. 13, 2021.
President Biden receives briefing about the Caldor and other fires
President Biden receives briefing about the Caldor and other fires in California after flying to Mather AFB, Sept. 13, 2021.

Below is the text of the Presidents public remarks while at NIFC September 13, 2021, provided by the White House:

12:08 P.M. MDT

MR. BEEBE: Mr. President, on behalf of the wildland fire community, I’m proud to welcome you to the National Interagency Fire Center — or NIFC, for short. And we always say NIFC is a place, not an organization.


MR. BEEBE: We’re incredibly proud of it.

Thank you for coming. We’re honored you’re the first President to visit in the 50-year history of the Fire Center, and it’s quite an honor.

I’m Grant Beebe. I’m the Bureau of Land Management’s Assistant Director for Fire and Aviation. And speaking for all the NIFC partners, I’d like to thank you particularly for being here and for your genuine and intense interest in wildland fire management.

I just want to point out: This is a coalition of partners. We have a team here. We have National Park Service, DOD, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Association of State Foresters representing the states, FEMA, U.S. Fire Administration, and, of course, U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service.

I think I got them all; somebody will correct me. Oh, and of course, National Weather Service — one of the original partners here at NIFC. The inception of this was a Forest Service, BLM, NOAA, Fish and Wi- — National Weather Service operation.

So, we’re incredibly proud of it. We’re so proud to have you here.

NIFC was created 50 years ago, and it is the original and durable model for interagency, intergovernmental coordination. Extremely lengthy, intense, and damaging fire seasons like the one we’re experiencing now reinforce the purpose of places like this.

Through the hard work, ingenuity, and persistence of generations of fire professionals, wildfire response across the nation is unified, cooperative, and professional. And I’ll say that we all stand on the shoulders of giants. We inherited this place, and we’re trying to keep it going.

In wildland fire, there’s no one community, agency, Tribal organization that has enough resources to manage all of its fires. Fires don’t know jurisdictional boundaries, and we try to ignore jurisdictional boundaries ourselves. One of our speakers will speak to that particularly.

But the kind of fires we’re experiencing these days — the kind of long-duration, massive, destructive fires we’ve witnessed in recent years in places like California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and, unfortunately, for Governor Otter [sic] this year, in Idaho — they’re teaching us that we need to maybe change the way we’re doing business.

At NIFC and at innumerable regional and local fire coordination centers, the nation’s wildland fire managers join forces, and we direct local, state, Tribal, federal firefighting resources to protect lives and livelihoods, property, infrastructure, and vulnerable natural resources.

Ultimately, we all count on help from our partners when crisis strikes. In years like this, it takes the entire national wildland fire response apparatus — from local, rural fire departments; Rangeland Fire Protection Associations; professional state, county, federal firefighters; military partners — thank goodness for our military partners this year; international assistance — to manage fires across our landscape.

I’ll say people of my age tend to measure fire history in terms of fire seasons, and many of us who are a little longer in the tooth think about the Yellowstone fires of 1988, of course, and what a calamitous fire season that was and we were sure that was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.


MR. BEEBE: I’ll just point out that Yellowstone burned about 800,000 acres in the park. And this year, the Dixie fire, as you know, is approaching about a million acres itself.

California is setting records for the largest fires in history. Colorado set and then reset records for largest fires in history. So, we’re entering into a different environment in fire, and we’re starting to think about how we need to change our tactics. And we’ll talk about that a little bit more.

So, I’ll say, finally, that another complex, costly, and critical wildland fire year underscores the nation’s need to recommit resources to fire prevention, preparedness, and response. And, frankly, we’re honored that you’re here and that you have made that measure one of your own.

I’d like to pass it on to Governor Little now. I know he’d like to introduce you — or to welcome you to Idaho.

GOVERNOR LITTLE: Thank you, Grant.

Mr. President, thank you for being here. Grant really put his arms around the all-hands-on-deck in this facility. And all these people that work here is — are a result of years of seeing what didn’t work in collaboration and what does. And they just get better at it every year.

I want to talk a little bit about what we talked — when you hosted the call with the Western governors — about two things.

One of them: Thank you for asking these men and women in our firefighting to get on the fires early, given the incredible drought that we have in the West, so that we didn’t have those fires we needed to worry about, along with the ones we had going.

But second: what we can all do as partners — the federal partners — to build a more resilient range and forest ecosystem.

There’s been a lot of great work done by your agencies to — whether it’s shared stewardship or good neighbor. But we know about a third of the forests are at risk of big, catastrophic fires, and we got a lot of work to do.

And besides your — you directing the Forest Service and the BLM, the Department of Justice has a role because, so many times, we’ll do a lot of great work, and then it’ll get hung up in court for sometimes very minor reasons.

If you can help us do that, to where we can continue to get these fully agreed-upon plans implemented so that we are not endangering these firefighters when we put them out there because we’ve got forests or — or even rangeland conditions where the fuels are just almost impossible to fight, it would be very appreciated. And all the Western governors stand ready to work with you and your administration on it.

And again, thank you for coming to Boise.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Gov, thank you. I have enjoyed working with the Western governors.

I — folks, you know — the press has heard me say this before in a different context — but my colleagues used to always kid me when I was in the Senate; I’m always quoting Irish poets about — when I thought it was appropriate. And — and I think they thought I was doing it because I was Irish, but I did it because they’re the best poets. But — (laughter).

All kidding aside, there’s a line from a famous poem. And I think — I didn’t think of it, Grant, until you just were speaking. And it goes like this: It says, “All is changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.” “A Terrible beauty has been born.”

From the Yellowstone fire to today, all has changed in a drastic, drastic way. I need not tell Robyn, who — National Weather Service — it’s changed, and it’s not going back. It’s not going back. And we and Western Governors, we’ve talked about this. And — and, you know, there’s an expression I say all the firefighters here that God made man and then he made a few firefighters.

You all are the most incredible people. Now, I’m not being — it’s not hyperbole. I started my career with the firefighters as a 29-year-old kid running for the United States Senate, and we’ve never left one another. And I see the Hotshots out there. I don’t want to do any more mass memorial services of the 19 Hotshots that I did back in Arizona.

And the only thing that keeps you all safe is one another. Firefighters have as many injuries and lose as many people as police officers do. But the only thing that really matters is if there’s enough firefighters — firefighters protecting firefighters. That’s the big deal. That’s what it all comes down to.

And I just want you to know that you have the full support of my government — my administration, I should say — and all those who have major roles in the government, from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Interior — just across the board.

And so — and I want to acknowledge Senators Risch and Crapo can’t be here. And Senator Wyden and Markley [sic] were going to come — or, excuse me, Merkley — were going to come from Oregon. We got a call while in flight: The weather is so bad they can’t make it here.

And so I just want to thank them for the incredible work they do as well, because this one of the areas where we do have some overwhelming bipartisan support.

And here at the National Interagency Fire Center, the hub that’s designed to coordinate the resources to fight wildfires, I’m here to hear what’s on your mind and what more that I should be doing, my administration be doing to try to help.

You know, folks, you know the time of the year when the air fills with smoke and the sky turns a little orange, but that time of year is getting earlier every year. And, you know, last week, the air in Boise was thick with smoke from California and from Oregon. And, you know, this year, as you’ve pointed out, Grant, you know, 44,000 wildfires; 5.4 million acres burned. That’s larger than the entire state of New Jersey.

When I say that back East — they’re used to floods and storms. When I say that back East, they — it’s just unfathomable. First of all, they don’t fully understand how big the West is, but more acreage is burned than the entire state of New Jersey, which is a big state.

And, you know, California: 2.2 million acres this year — already this year. The Dixie fire — a million acres. The Caldor fire — 200,000 acres, 1,000 structures. And God knows how many lives risked or lost trying to deal with it.

You know, you’ve saved many communities — the firefighters — and you saved South Lake Tahoe. And what people are beginning to realize is you risk your lives to do it. And thank God — thank God we have you.

But, you know, fires and frequency and ferocity of these fires — I have — I’m having a lot of international meetings with our colleagues around the world. They’re asking. They’re asking. Australia — really worried. Australia (inaudible) but are trying to figure it out. Canada. I mean, just go around the world.

And so, folks, look: The fact is that we’re in a situation where too many memorials are — have been held. And I’ve directed my administration to provide for pay bonuses and incentives to ensure every federal firefighter — because that’s the only authority I have — makes at least $15 an hour. I mean, they should make a hell of a lot — heck of a lot more, but at least $15 an hour. And I’m committing to work with Congress to raise the pay gap for federal wildland firefighters.

FEMA: 33 fire management assistant grants to help states pay for the cost of firefighting. And it’s still not enough. The costs are enormous, you have.

And so, you know, believe it or not, there’s massive shortage of fire hoses. I think you all get it. But the idea that we went into this fire season with a shortage of fire hoses — that’s all I heard from my guys back East and in the Midwest: no fire hoses.

Well, fortunately, they thought a long time ago about a thing called the National Defense Act. And what I was able to do — excuse me, the Defense Production Act.

And I was able to restart production of bringing — bringing a lot of people back to work, delivering 21,920 new feet of fire hose in the frontlines, putting a company back to work that was out of business that stopped — stopped manufacturing.

You know — and the major is here; he knows about this. While we were — we have a commitment at the Department of Defense to defend home, as well as abroad, and that includes the fire service.

We’re now have — we have C-130s for fire suppression, RC-26 aircraft to provide critical fire imagery. And they’re based in California. They’ve flown over 1,000 missions so far — 250 active-duty troops — and I’ve gotten no pushback from the Department of Defense in this at all — none — to the Dixie fire in California. And sharing satellite imagery that we have available to us to help monitor growth of fires.

I’ve directed the EPA to use this new technology we have to deliver smoke and fire and air quality information directly to people’s iPhones. We’ll be able to do that very shortly. It may have already begun in some places.

And — but one of the things we have to do is we have to build back better than what happened before all this began to come apart. And so, we have a proposal — and, by the way, both my Republican colleagues in this state and the Democratic colleagues from — from Oregon, who were going to try to be here, all — we all support this bill I put together on infrastructure so when we build back, we can build back better than it was before.

And it — it cre- — it literally provides for billions of dollars for wildfire prepare — wildfire preparedness, resilience and response, forest management, and public water sources — public water sources.

What people back East don’t quite get is that, were it not for the fact we made significant investments years ago in everything from the Hoover Dam to a whole range of other things out here, a lot of people south of you wouldn’t have any water, and how valuable and serious access to that water is across the board.

And, you know, we need to — we have $14 billion for disaster needs, including $9 billion for communities hit with wildfire and drought. We got to pass it. We got to get it done. And it’s gone through both houses.

But that’s going to — I hope, Governor — be of significant help to you, because states can’t burden it, especially smaller states; you’re a big state. But I mean smaller states, in terms of population, can’t carry this on their back.

And so, you know, this is a — we’re — we’re one America. You know, we have a federal system because each part of the country is supposed to make up for the other count- — parts of the country didn’t have.

And so, you know, we need to do more. We’ve asked for $14 billion for disaster needs, including, as I said, that $9 billion for community — this is over a 10-year period — for — hit by wildfires and drought.

And, you know, we can’t continue to try to ignore reality. Barack — President Obama used to always kid me. I’d say, “You know, reality has a way of working its way in.” Well, you know, the reality is we have a global warming problem — a serious global warming problem, and it’s consequential.

And what’s going to happen is, things aren’t going to go back to what they were. It’s not like you can build back to what it was before. It’s not going to get any better than it is today. It only can get worse, not better. It’s not like we’re going to not have more problems. But we can do this, in my view.

The scientists have warned us for years: The fail — failure to curb pollution from smokestacks and automobiles and a whole range of other things are going to have a con- — going to take its consequences.

And I learned a long time ago, Gov, that — as a U.S. senator back east, that all the major streams and ponds and lakes — for example, in New York state, they were being polluted, the fish were dying, things were changing. And you know what it was all from? It wasn’t because of what they were doing in upstate New York; it’s because of smokestacks in Chicago — steel plants — because it carries — the wind carries that pollution at a height that doesn’t affect the state of Illinois, or doesn’t affect the state of Indiana, doesn’t affect — but it eventually comes down.

Well, you know, I guess you all — I know you all know it. You know, you have the smoke from the fires in California on the East Coast, and sometimes it’s blocking out the sky. People are not just worried about COVID; they’re worried about whether their kids are going to be breathing.

And so, every dollar we invest in resilience — this is part of my message here, and there’s a lot more I want to hear from you that you think we should be doing and I think we should be doing as well. But for every dollar we invest in resilience that is building back better, we save six dollars down the road in the future. And, you know, you all know the number. Studies show extreme weather cost America last year $99 billion. Extreme weather.

It’s not just fires. I mean, more people died — I just went — I was in Louisiana, Mississippi, and all through the south (inaudible) Hurricane Ida. Well, guess what? More people died in Brooklyn than died in Louisiana. More people. The floodwaters were immense. Never seen anything like it. People were drowning in their homes because there was tornado warnings to go to their basement, and all of a sudden, the flood comes through the windows, up to the ceiling. Can’t get out. People dying.

So, I guess, to state the obvious, you all are incredible in what you’re doing. But I also think about the jobs we’re losing due to the impact of supply chains and industries that are being held up.

I’m looking forward to this briefing. My message to you is: When we build back, we have to build back better. It’s not a Democrat thing, it’s not a Republican thing — it’s a weather thing. It’s a reality. It’s serious.

And we can do this. We can do this, and, in the process of building back, we can create jobs, not lose jobs. We can create jobs.

So, my — you know, I’m going to stop here and turn it back to you, Grant. And thanks for hosting us. And I understand, as a former smokejumper, you’re crazy too. (Laughter.) God love you all.

I grew up in a little town called Claymont, Delaware, and I went to school — I used to tell Frank Church this — I got a — my first job offer, where I wanted — my wife — deceased wife and I wanted to move to Idaho because we think — not a joke — because it’s such a beautiful, beautiful state. And I interviewed for a job with Boise Cascade. And in the meantime, there was a war going on. At any rate —

But the whole point was that I used to always kid Frank. But I grew up with a little steel town called Claymont, Delaware, when Scranton shut down because of coal mining. And I went to a little Catholic grade school called Holy Rosary. And it was on — before I-95, there used to be a thing called the “Philadelphia pike.” And so, my mom would drive me from — we only lived about a mile from school, and the school bus wasn’t around then — and drive me to the parking lot.

And right across the street from the school was a fire station, Claymont Fire — a volunteer fire company, but they’re really good. And so, all the guys who grew up either became cops, firefighters, or priests. I wasn’t qualified for any of them, so I’m here. (Laughter.)

But all kidding aside, you guys and women are incredible. You’re incredible at what you do. I’m not — it’s not hyperbole. If you know anything about me, you know my — my long, long, long, long, long relationship with firefighters.

I mean it from the bottom of my heart. And we owe you more than just our thanks. We owe you what you need to deal with these problems.

I’m sorry to go on so long. Thank you.

I’ll turn it back to you, Grant. And I guess that’s who I’m turning it back to. I don’t know who — anyway, whoever wants to do the talking.

MR. BEEBE: That would be me. Thank you, Mr. President. And you’re right, I was a smokejumper, only because I trained to be a teacher and that was way too difficult and scary, so I did something that was way easier. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s why I left the county council.

MR. BEEBE: There you go.

The National Association of State Foresters is a key partner of ours. George Geissler is representing them today. He’s a state forester from the great state of Washington.

Welcome, George. I know you got a couple things to say, so have at it.

MR. GEISSLER: Yes. Thank you, Grant. And thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity to give you a little bit of insight as to the role that state and local governments can play in our interagency wildland fire management world.

As Grant said, you know, safe and effective fire management requires the commitment, the cooperation, and the coordination of all of us, all of our partners. State forestry agencies — such as my own Washington Department of Natural Resources, the Florida Forest Service, and California’s Cal Fire — are the primary agencies that are responsible for wildland fire suppression in our states, and we’re partners here at the National Interagency Fire Center with a fire director who sits on NMAC and helps to decide each day the priorities that occur in this nation.

Federal, state, Tribal, and local agencies all benefit from this collaborative effort that helps move national air and ground resources to the areas of greatest threat, while still ensuring all agencies are supported in the firefighting effort.

Within the cooperative structure of the cohesive strategy, and then formalized by our Master Interagency Wildland Fire Management Agreements, states are routinely fighting fire on federal lands alongside the federal agencies, and then they turn around and are helping us on our own fires. Because, as you said, fire knows no boundaries.

Nationwide, state forestry agencies are responsible for wildfire protection on about 1.5 billion acres, and about 1.1 billion of those acres are actually state and privately-owned forestlands.

And so far, this year, of those 44,000 fires that you’ve heard, states have responded to about 33,000 of those. We routinely are at about 75 percent of the numbers of wildfires that occur in this country.

So, states contribute, in addition to that, just hundreds of millions of dollars annually to provide wildland firefighting resources — like, you know, firefighters, engines, heavy equipment, aircraft — and all of this goes into the national effort, along with our federal partners.

And federal funding, such as State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance that we received through the U.S. Forest Service, actually helps to expand on that capacity as well as maintain it. And all of that is really getting it down to that helping the rural volunteer fire departments that we all know are across the U.S.


MR. GEISSLER: The partnership and all of the cooperation between state and local governments, though, it’s not just for wildfire suppression, like you said. You know, through Good Neighbor Authority, through shared stewardship, we work together with our local governments, with our Tribal partners, and we do all of the critical fuels mitigation work. We do the forest health treatments that are out there. And we’re trying to work, as you said, to improve the resiliency of these landscapes as we go and see the impacts of climate change.

You know, and all of this is really — provides assistance directly to the communities that we have out there. And as you know, wildfires are impacting entire communities in the United States. These annual occurrences place millions of Americans at risk, and they’re no longer limited to just what you see about in the news in the West. They — we have fires — it’s now a “fire year,” and we routinely have fires throughout all 50 states.

But the threat to catastrophic wildfire in America’s wildland-urban interface — it really demands national attention. And it needs to be unified, it needs to be multifaceted, it needs to be — take on prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery.

And it’s just like you see wildland fire suppression being managed at this building; we need that effort to protect our wildland-urban interface.

So, as chair of the National Association of State Foresters Wildland Committee, I really do appreciate you coming and putting this focus on wildland fire suppression and what we can all do together to address this issue that we’re all facing — be it climate change, landscape resiliency, or threats to our communities. We look forward to working with you.

The article was edited on Sept 17, 2021 to correct the size of the Caldor Fire.

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.

30 thoughts on “President Biden visits National Interagency Fire Center”

  1. Assistant Director for USFS FAM (Operations) Beth Lund sitting left of President. She isn’t one to engage in rhetoric. Probably agreed to have one federal manager speak and former smokejumper who can crack jokes with the President in public remarks portion seems like the natural choice. She is a ground pounder with a ton of experience. Folks are a little too quick to assume these folks don’t have ground experience. Finding the right time and voice to share hard truths is a whole other conversation. Often not doing so is as much a calculation of immediate effectiveness and future political capital. Ever worked with someone that was constantly getting on the soapbox and sounded overly emotional? Bet they were less effective and didn’t get as far as employee who used speeches sparingly and gave a level delivery. Even if they were both saying the same thing…

  2. I would hope this President listens to the experts on Forest Management. Maybe the next meeting should be with the people who actually fight fires.

  3. Thanks for publishing this article; it is great to have a President who acknowledges the issues for all Americans.

  4. To “Def;” As a former upper level Line Officer, I can tell you that few, very few, at that level ever speak up on important issues. Having witnessed the silence over and over, I would say it has to do with “Will” and “Guts,” and personal knowledge of “field level issues of importance.” They can get the latter by simply asking and talking with key folks at all levels, but then they have to be willing to stand before their peers and say what needs to be said!
    I know what you’re thinking: What the hell are they doing in these upper level jobs if they won’t speak up when it’s needed? Obviously, some should not be in those jobs.
    As for the current fire disasters, we really need “key people” to speak up, inside and outside the agencies. We may have to have an official investigation (with skilled members) to get to the bottom of the tactics taken, and or policies being followed. I hope that happens for all concerned.

  5. I agree, Trump’s “Rake the Leaves” speech was Comedy.

    BUT it’s a very valid practice. Maybe call it Extreme Landscaping.

    I have a neighbor who has about 55 acres of forest. He rakes about 1/2 of it obsessively.

    He removes all the top layers of Humus.

    No leaves, no pine needles, no sticks, NOTHING.

    You could walk around dropping matches and nothing would burn.

    The sun bakes the bottom layer of forest floor into a hard brown shell. Bad place to be a worm or a bug. Or a bird looking for a worm or a bug.

    I am pretty sure his house is invulnerable to wildfire.

    Though Trump was not specific, the “Raking” he advises really does work to reduce – or eliminate – wildfire risk.

    Though none of the neighbors are eager to see it put to the test, because we are mostly struggling to remove combustible fuels from our respective properties.

  6. First president to EVER visit NIFC in the 50 some odd years since it was established.
    That tells me what I need to know.
    Thanks President Biden for showing the interest and a commitment to the “kids” who breathe Wildland smoke every year.
    I don’t care if you even know what a Pulaski is, you’re interested, and committed.
    And smart enuff not to say some dxxxxxxt comment about forest management like your predecessor.
    And you’ll find no finer professional Wildland firefighter than Grant Beebe. Nowhere. Making jokes about himself is not the same as “dissing” firefighters in general and smokejumpers specifically. He is humble man and fiercely proud of his profession and the people in it.
    Thanks to the people at NIFC and in the field, wherever you are, no matter what you do, for what you do.
    Thanks Bill for posting this word for word.

  7. A rambling bunch of nonsense when the President could have been very specific about what he’s going to change, to demonstrate that he’s listened for the last few months from Governors and agency heads. Someone has to tell the President that $15 should not be the target; it has to be “north of $20” to even come close to other agency pay grades.
    Where was the USFS Chief??
    Why wasn’t the 90 million acres of dead and dying forests addressed?
    Why wasn’t it hammered home that “quick initial attack” is a must and will be funded.
    The whole event was a bunch of rambling political talk.
    No serious elements of leadership surfaced at all Disappointing.

    1. I have read many complaints about how Americans don’t understand the challenges faced by wildland firefighters. Well, you do not seem to understand the challenges of the job of President of the United States. With few exceptions, most involving national security, the President can not snap his fingers to achieve change. He has to work with all of Congress and 100 Senators. They are the ones who pass the budgets. The President spoke about the added funding for firefighting and for protecting public land resources that are part of his pending infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress and now is waiting for the Senate. You might want to give it a read, you can find it online. You also might want to give your Senators a call. The ball is in their court.

  8. I lived in Boise for 18 years and had lots of friends who worked for NIFC. I was also a seasonal NPS ranger in my 20s, and am dedicated to public lands. That is why I follow this blog.

    I am very happy that our President visited Idaho and I found his comments to be very sincere.

    1. The Idaho Senators were, um, er, uh, No-Shows. Weather excuses… hmmmm, could have hopped a ride on Air Force One!
      Score 1 for our President, O for Senators. Way to go Smokin’ Joe! He has been a busy guy.
      Addressing pay and benefits inequities for firefighters, especially at entry levels, is key to retention. How about cancelling that 1988 OPM rule that temporary time could not be counted toward retirement (prior to 1988, a new permanent employee could “buy back” temporary time by paying what would have been deducted from paychecks).

  9. I now have a headache after reading that. I’m pretty sure that I’m even a tad bit dumber for engaging in that article.

  10. Okay, ya know there is a lot of positive out this! He went out west for and entire day to talk wildfire, when was the last time a president has done this? Let alone our own administration that have been put in charge? Give him a break folks, something is better than nothing and finally one person is stating some facts about pay, that yes he may not know much about the occupation (like I don’t know much about….say being a marine biologist), but that not what leaders need to do is know everything. They have people for that, and none of his people are speaking up! He may not be the best in other areas, but dang nab it all he’s making some head way for the government side of things! And if hose is his first step, then good, still better than ANYONE else has done!

  11. Gotta love Grant Beebe insulting smokejumpers… Time to find people that will advocate for their workforce. Millions of great things to say about smokejumpers and Grant Beebe decided to insult them in front of the president…

      1. He should be advocating for the workforce, and when Biden is sitting there with him on national media, he decides to compare us to an unrelated field and punch down.

        It’s not about me being thick skinned or not, it’s about him doing his job professionally at a critical time.

        Beebe using his time as a jumper for credibility and at then insulting them is just a bad look.

        It’s not about me, it’s about a workforce that has lost faith in our leadership.

        1. I don’t think it was insulting or punching down just a little humor(bit of nerves being on camera and in front of the pres) …but I do agree more could have been said and reiterated on raising pay and benefits and mental health resources. It just seems like the GS fantastic at the top really aren’t concerned about any of it or scared that its career suicide to advocate for better pay for their subordinates. Have yet to see one agency lead, director, FMO, AFMO at any level publicly say anything about it when they have the spotlight and attention. Only time they really say something is when they’ve retired or moved on….

          I dont why it is…whether they’re directed from the top to shut up or if they have moved up and just don’t look back and care. By then its too little too late….

          1. Check out Chris Ford, his testimony last Spring before senate. It was multiple interactions with Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) where he said they need to quadruple the workforce, and entry level Wildland Firefighters should be able to support a family of 4. Search on wildfire today or grassroots Wildland Firefighters for the clips.

            I believe he is Deputy Chief or something. Literally the only leader in Washington I’m proud to say I work with.

        2. Grant isn’t insulting smokejumpers. You are way too thin-skinned if that’s what you get out of that. I jumped with him for a short period (and worked with him on his crew before that) and I know how hard he worked as a jumper. He was also the Base Manager at Boise. Get over yourself.

        3. Well I think Grant is a good person, was a smokejumper who finally agreed to move to a position to make a difference within his agency and his agency partners. I’ve been retired 10 years and always looked forward to working with Grant. That said, all the agencies are within the executive branch and support the president when speaking publicly and often in testimony. Hopefully channels thru their under secretary, though their secretary get reality and issues voiced to the President. Keep up the good fight.

  12. Clearly President Biden is clueless when it comes to wildland fire prevention – no mention whatsoever of the importance of raking the floors?
    Who can ever forget that shining moment in Pennsylvania back in 2018 when Trump dazzled us with his extensive knowledge of wildland fire fighting and prevention:
    “I see again the forest fires are starting,” he said at a rally in swing-state Pennsylvania. “They’re starting again in California. I said, you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests — there are many, many years of leaves and broken trees and they’re like, like, so flammable, you touch them and it goes up.”

    Brilliant!! All we gotta do is clean the floors!
    Those were the days!

    1. Yeah, I live among Easterners. Every time one of them mentions the need to rake the forest floors I ask them if they are volunteering to rake a square mile of forest every year. And I ask how many volunteers will we need to rake all the square miles of forest yearly. Usually that is the end of the conversation and I walk away.

      Years ago I lived in Germany, where they really do rake the forest floors… but they are really woodlots, not forests. And some of the “forests” really are planted in rows. Any kind of lumber was very expensive there. I have read that most of the virgin forests in Europe were cut down starting over 6000 years ago.

  13. Reality has a way of working itself in unless/until theres a prime opportunity for the agency/fire managers in charge to look beyond a headline grabbing meager pay raise and honestly address the suicide rates of federal responders & employees OR address the mental and emotional toll being unleashed on our troops to cary out their duties as assigned. Our “unskilled laborers” & their supporting staff’s need & deserve much much better than this. The deserve more attention than hose…


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