OPM creates timeline for developing a Wildland Firefighter job series

May, 2022 is the target date to issue the final policy for federal employees

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OPM's timeline for development of a Wildland Firefighter job series
OPM’s timeline for development of a Wildland Firefighter job series. OPM graphic.

The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has created an action plan for the development of a job series to more accurately reflect the work that is now being done by wildland firefighters (WLFF) employed by five federal agencies. For the last 50 or more years WLFFs working for the Departments of Agriculture (DoA) and Interior (DoI) have been pigeonholed into Forestry or Range Technician positions. Their pay is very different from firefighters who work for private industry, municipal departments, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and private contractors who fight wildland fires for the DoA and DoI.

The timeline created by the OPM is very ambitious for a task to be completed by half a dozen federal agencies. It establishes May of this year as a target for issuing the final policy.

During those five months the OPM expects to:

  • Review the current situation and compare work done by firefighters inside and outside the agencies;
  • Survey the federal agencies for what work they need accomplished;
  • Create groups and subgroups to meet regularly for job classification;
  • Hold focus groups;
  • Obtain input from leadership of the agencies;
  • Meet with human resources subject matter experts and the leadership of the agencies to discuss findings and recommendations;
  • Draft policy, guidance, and/or tools for Wildland Firefighter (WLFF) work in the Federal government;
  • Receive comments and feedback from the agencies;
  • Issue the final policy in May, 2022.
OPM's action plan for development of a Wildland Firefighter job series
OPM’s action plan for development of a Wildland Firefighter job series. OPM graphic.

After the new WLFF job series is developed, then the five agencies have to actually adopt it and convert their firefighters into Firefighter positions. If the series requires higher pay, that could become a stumbling block. But if there are as many vacant positions now as there were last May they probably have enough unspent salary money to take care of the difference. But I would be surprised if there are many working in the new series before the start of the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2022 at the very earliest.

In a perfect world the development of the WLFF job series would have been initiated decades ago by leadership of the five federal agencies that employ a total of about 15,000 of these firefighters (if all positions were filled): Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Forest Service. Instead, they and the OPM are being forced to do the right thing by bipartisan infrastructure legislation passed by Congress in November, 2021.

Federal WLFFs have been recommending a realistic job series for decades, but within the last year their voices have been louder than ever and members of Congress have noticed. A fairly new non-profit organization, Grassroots Wildland Firefighters, has been one of those voices helping to raise awareness with the public and legislators.

Two other bills have been introduced in the last few months that address pay issues for federal WLFFs,  H.R. 4274 Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act, and H.R. 5631 Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Classification and Pay Parity Act. Brief descriptions of the bills are in the article we published October 26. The legislation has been introduced, referred to five committees, and one hearing was held by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.


Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Ben and Matt.

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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.

118 thoughts on “OPM creates timeline for developing a Wildland Firefighter job series”

  1. I’ve got my lawn chair out watching for all the line officers that never dug a foot of fireline or cut down a single hazard tree all explain how they are firefighters…

    And I’d hope the SMEs are actual firefighters. We need to go directly to OPM if it’s all line officers nominating themselves for these SME roles.

  2. You seem angry at line officers and of course I don’t know why that is, but you can’t get around that just as the President is C-in-C of the armed forces whether or not s/he served in the military, so it goes with line officers running the fire program.

    Because you’re going to ask I’ll tell you I was never a primary FF but spent the first three years of my career going out pretty regularly on our engines and occasionally a T2 hand crew, so more than some, less than others.

    But you really ought take a look at the mirror as you badmouth line officers. There’s a high probability they’re saying the same thing about you, which I’ll speculate is probably the source of your anger.

  3. You seem angry at line officers and of course I don’t know why that is, but you can’t get around that just as the President is C-in-C of the armed forces whether or not s/he served in the military, so it goes with line officers running the fire program.

    Because you’re going to ask I’ll tell you I was never a primary FF but spent the first three years of my career going out pretty regularly on our engines and occasionally a T2 hand crew, so more than some, less than others.

    But you really ought take a look at the mirror as you badmouth line officers. There’s a high probability they’re saying the same thing about you, which I’ll speculate is probably the source of your anger.

  4. And what will become of the Forest Service Militia program? Will our pay also be raised based on maintaining the same qualifications and completing the same work when called upon?

    Quals are Quals, firefighting is firefighting. I put on the same costume. And yes I’ll still pick up trash in the woods even though it’s not on fire.

    -Forest Tech

  5. First of all, a good Line Officer should never be heard or seen bad mouthing their employees. If it’s true that they despise their Fire employees for the possibility that they might get a raise, then that negates every one of your justifications for respecting Line Officers.

    Secondly, your argument is just further proof that it would make more sense to have a federal wildland fire service, instead of having the fire organizations be led by incompetent and under experienced line officers that don’t have any real perspective of the risk and duties of their forestry technicians.

    Respect is earned, and it’s not due to someone because of their title, but because of their character.

  6. Line Officer Bro,

    I’m certainly not upset, but it’s funny they argued for decades we weren’t firefighters. We had to go around them to Congress, media and even the president making the argument we were firefighters.

    I don’t see the animosity as much as the comedy. People who argued we were not “wildland firefighters” will certainly now be justifying their inclusion in the “wildland firefighter” classification being created. And I don’t blame them! Money is a good motivator, much more than sunsets.

    The point is to bring the entire Forest Service up to meet the challenges that we currently face.

  7. All the Militia I see are GS-11 Desk Jockys from the Supervisors Office with their FFT2 Quals looking to make a fat paycheck and GS-3 Range/Recreation folks with little to no fire experience. In my opinion, if Militia folks want a future pay raise they can apply for a Primary Fire Position. Lord knows there are plenty of them available at the moment.

    It’s the equivalent of me asking to be paid as a GS-11 when I help the Biologist with his projects on the forest. I don’t want to start a fight but I’m concerned that non fire employees are going to try and put a stop to this life changing legislation for me and my fire brothers and sisters.

  8. That’s the most ridiculous comment I have heard. C and C. Good analogy. The Chief Of the FS may be like the C and C, but not every RF,DRF, FS and DR. A civilian leadership at the pentagon, but from the top of the warriors (joint chiefs) all the way down to the grunt, warriors and warrior generals. There is not a civilian non-warrior at every unit/division/ battalion command leading warriors. Fire Chiefs in departments work for county boards, mayors or city councils, but firefighters work for fire chiefs, not city managers. Militia do their part as front line “firefighters “, but voluntarily as a collateral duty, many strictly for the OT and mainly in places and in organizations that are inadequately managed and inadequately staffed. Adequate staffing with standard PDs, organized in standard modules designed to support total national mobility. For far too long, regions and units have fought this concept and key concepts from the national fire plan but enjoy the benefits from those regions and units that do.

  9. And all I see are some road toads & hotel heroes ( yeah I got jokes!) working on their tan and heating up ham sandwiches in the microwave back at the station while we are crosscutting, digging new trail, laying out timber sales, and then handed the saw when it comes time to cut line for the **Fire Program **

    I’ll start a fight, perhaps things are different for me after 14 seasons in the field, doing a huge variety of work. A proud Forestry Technician for life and I could care less about the paycheck.

    And In case you missed it, There’s still UNLIMITED fuels reduction work to get done and a backlog of 100 years harm done by fire suppression. If your special new title and pay raise changes that, I’d love to see it.

  10. Hearing non-fire people complain about getting a new classification just reinforces the need for a National Fire Service, outside of land management agencies.

    If you can’t be happy for others, then work to organize for your own benefit if you feel like you aren’t be paid for your value. Or come and take a fire job.

    Of course this can lead to better pay for all land management employees, but people need to stop bickering.

  11. The difference is that us “primary” fire folks can’t say no when the fire tone goes off because ya know….it’s our job. That’s literally what we get paid for. To go to fires.

    We can’t say, “Nah, I need to be home tonight or I want the weekend off.”

    But militia folks can. It’s not their primary duty. They don’t even have to go if they don’t want to.

    Nothing against militia. Some of the ones I’ve worked with are bad asses and just as good firefighters as anyone I’ve seen.

    There’s plenty of openings if they want to make it their job and get a raise for it.

  12. The complaints from militia is hilarious to me. In the three regions I’ve worked the amount of militia involvement I’ve seen is almost negligible. Fire at night, rx on the weekend, assignment on the 4th of July? Militia is no where to be seen. For the people who work 9-5 and see their kids every night to complain about firefighters finally get compensation is laughable.

  13. If there is so much fuels work to be done, then maybe some fuels techs should be doing it, like how their special title implies. Or if some trails work needs to be done, a rec tech can do it. I do my job, why do I gotta do yours too?

  14. Whoa whoa whoa……a few things to think about: I came into primary fire after 10 years of collateral. Collaterals help fill out my understaffed primary fire engine. The management decision to suppress or how/where to suppress may be impacted by rec/wildlife/timber/range management specialists. With regards to rx…..all fires consume fuel so let’s get over fuel reduction and talk ecological management which involves resource management specialists who might understand our perspective if we actually involve them MORE. YOU might be a better operator if you understood their perspective more. We are ONE TEAM. Everyone needs to get off their pedestal. We probably all feel undervalued along our career paths at some point. Forgive the fat fingers…..I’m on assignment.

  15. Yes exactly. There’s a pretty obvious playbook: 1)people should be taking fire jobs
    2) now rec/timber/trails are understaffed
    3) now rec/timber/trails get a pay raise

    This is not that hard folks. Solidarity.

    Of course you may need to engage media, politicians, form an advocacy group along the way, but the path is there

  16. So all Quals outside of Primary fire should just be canceled and thrown out? Why on Earth would I maintain my FAL 1 , FFT1, ICT5, if some FFT2 isn’t even going to call me a damn firefighter and potentially make more??

    It discredits the movement when you only value equality when it benefits you.

    How can you be “non-Fire “ as you keep putting it, when you have a red card and participate in fire management ops?

  17. I guess we’re about to see.

    Either way, no sense in throwing lobs. The current model wasn’t working, and that’s the opinion of Congress, the president, our citizens and media.

    People afraid of change have held back progress for too long. Let’s see where this goes.

  18. The difference as others have said is you don’t have to lose all summer and life events you just jump in and out as you like for a little money or fun fire fighters give their lives and summers away missing many things trails/timber/fish can’t even begin to understand as they have weekends every week

  19. Just got done picking myself up off the floor, wiping the tears from my eyes, and catching my breath after reading homies attempt at street cred up there with 3 seasons of filling in on engines and T2 crews…and the other guy acting like we’ll really need that militia ICT5….

    But as far as militia…doesn’t anybody see with a classification and higher pay that maybe we’d be able to fill all our positions and thered be no need for militia? They have some value NOW. But because we’re short staffed from losing the competition with other agencies, trades,, and even Amazon warehouses…..Militia has been filling in the gaps that are left when people take other positions outside and within the agency or being used by some forests and districts still using a relic of a staffing model that hasnt been useful in over 30 years.

    If us getting paid better insults you…no worries…stop being militia…we’re good out here and really don’t need the timber cruiser or biologist from some tiny forest in Ohio to come out here for their annual 2 week exodus West to get some OT followed by 2 weeks of vacation to “recharge”.

    Yall worry about yourselves and we’ll take care of ourselves. Want better pay…start a Grassroots Trails Maintainer organization or something to lobby congress…quit crying and trying to piggyback of our efforts for gains.

  20. I’m DIVS, but if I take Resource Advisor (no taskbook) assignments it pays the same? Yeah, the system is broken.

  21. It’s already been said. Line officers and militia aren’t on the same hook as primary fire. I haven’t enjoyed summer vacations for nearly a decade. I don’t get to decide if I’m going to the mutual aid fire burning in the WUI at 2 am. I don’t get to plan my work around my life. I don’t get to work from home during covid. My line officer and ALL of the militia can do all these things. And yet I get paid less. And I get laid off every year.

  22. Seeing this pissing match of line officer, primary fire and militia is pretty sorry. We all are on the same team. Wildland fire has large impact on all aspects of federal land management which is were the need for line officers and militia are important to be involved in fire management. So they can help guide our decisions on the best way to utilize fire on the landscape. How many of you salty fire dogs want to take on making long term ecological and social economic decisions of how wildland fire effects the landscape and society? That’s what line officers and the militia are there for. So Firefighter can focus on strategy and tactics to get the job done. Let’s be honest, especially after the last two years, even if all primary fire positions where filled. Primary fire could not accomplish the mission without additional resources that the militia supplies. I have certainly been on T2 crews were a GS 11 is a FFT2 talking about using their OATs to buy a hot tub while a GS 4 or 5 is their squad boss just trying to make ends meet, that ‘s not right. I don’t think we will ever get past the over paid FFT2. But if we can narrow the wage disparity that’s a step in the right direction. After 20 years as primary/secondary firefighter, I have missed my fair share of anniversaries, birthdays, life events and wrecked many weekend plans. I have suffered injuries, dealt with mental health issues. So do I think primary firefighters deserve proper classification and pay YES, but let’s not be nasty about it. It only gives the resource side of the house more reason not to back you up.

  23. “A proud Forestry Technician for life and I could care less about the paycheck.”

    That’s cool dawg, not all of us want to live in penury until lung cancer gets us. Also, what kind of Great Value district do you work for that they rely on militia to be lead saw. Maybe you should lay off the Devil’s Juniper and value yourself a little bit more.

  24. Management WILL NOT use SMEs that speak the truth. I, along with 25 others, went to OPM, and Bob Baird was only too happy to say he was the SME, and OPM happily turned a blind eye to the real SMEs. So Bob told them that Type 4 fires weren’t dangerous. And OPM determined that our safety equipment “fully mitigated” the job hazards of firefighting, and so we were rated at the lower GS level. When I was sitting in the burn center a year later (because the PPE didn’t guarantee our safety like OPM said it would), I couldn’t help but feel anger towards our management for lacking the personal ethics, courage, and integrity to be honest about what we do.

  25. I feel the love tonight!!! 🙂 I know everyone hates being called a technician, but the position gives the NPS/FS/BLM the flexibility to assign people different jobs…and I hate to say it, but the legislatures support this idea too. I have watched 100’s of hours of hearings and Congress wants more for less…they want flexibility; but, this new position changes things. So, I have a question for everyone…What happens when a person is a firefighter and another position? Let’s say the other position makes more money than the firefighter position, will they make less money on a fire (P code) or still be pay what they usually make? Now, let say the other position makes less money than the firefighter position, will they make more on a fire (P code)? I think y’all need to be thinking about this, because the NPS/FS/BLM could cheat y’all out of money. What are the quals? Will people be qualified for jobs posted on USAJobs? Will NPS/FS/BLM use this to new position to discriminate against potential employees? How will that affect new hires and retention? My opinion (not that it means much) is that y’all need to stop fighting and get together and right down what y’all really want, and present it to Congress, before the NPS/FS/BLM management screws this up!!!

  26. Quals based promotions are just one difference in day jobs . 15/20 years to potentially get an ICT3 , DIVS, RXB3. All quals needed to even think about getting a GS-9 . Most other series are double stacked 5/7/9. Not discounting college (4 years max on education alone) , a sharp individual could potentially see a 9 in 4 years with a satisfactory performance eval.
    Add to that the points already made here in regards to, summers , on call, missed family experience (sometimes loosing family) .
    I’d add mental fatigue and well being from the compounding years of stress among others.

    Militia plays a roll. And perhaps one day there will be a quals based compensation for the value they add. But there is a clear difference in expectations from the fire folks. I know it’s not the same on every forest but my fire folks are the other departments work force. Title and compensation are long overdue.

  27. Militia deserve to get commensurate pay while on fire assignments doing the same work. Any other argument against that is a hater at best, elitist at worst.

    Why would a high functioning Militia member, who enhances the fire program, sit here and have you tell me my sweat isn’t real and I don’t deserve the same pay while completing the same work….get over yourself, you asked for the help! I’m supposed to feel bad because you all willingly sacrificed your weekends and missed the pool party? YOU SIGNED UP, BRO.

    Ask yourself if a couple extra bucks will fill all those vacancies? Could it possibly be the Power-trip culture, sexual discrimination, and lack of mentorship that keeps people away?

    I don’t need some grassroots webpage and social media to fight and keep my qualifications at the same pay, it’s called the Union. Lots of dodging, the only person who said some real stuff is SR.

    -Forestry Technician for life

  28. I agree with that militia deserves commensurate pay while on a fire. They are choosing to be there. In my opinion, H pay should be a thing for non fire folks who go to fires. When they’re on fires they should be H pay.

    H pay for fire folks should be built into our hourly salaries because we don’t get to choose.

    I’ve always found it utterly ridiculous that our jobs are literally to respond to fires and then when there’s a fire and we respond, we get paid more….for doing exactly what we are there to do. Makes zero sense. Build H pay into our wages. For everyone else who doesn’t have to respond but chooses to come help out. Pay them H pay accordingly.

  29. You should start doing some burpees while your on the floor, because clearly you DO need us.

    Participation from Militia, ADs, private crews, and National Guard has never been higher! you aren’t getting the job done and you’re not good out there.

    Excellent fodder for my union rep, nice work knocking your whole movement down.

  30. Hey, militia guy, I’m trying to figure out what it is that you’re asking for? Can you put some real numbers out here?

    Are you a GS-09 timber employee with an FFT1 qual asking for the same pay as a GS-04 “Fire” employee with an FFT1?

    Or are you a GS-05 rec tech with an FFT1 qual asking to make as much as a GS-08 “supervisory engine operator” with a DIVS qual?

    Every time you comment on here it seems like you want something more for employees that occasionally go on fire assignments. What, exactly, do you want?

    I think the reason why people are often taken aback by your comments about this is because *most* militia employees ALREADY make more money than *most* “fire” employees. Do you feel that if primary firefighters get a new classication and maybe a pay bump that the organization is going to pay you less money suddenly?

  31. Wow! To me it’s a no brainer. those positions that are currently covered by 6c are the positions that will be covered in the new FF series. I know I come from a bygone age and for the most part I am very happy to see the changes, they are needed to be sure, what really bums me out is all the folks that have an entitlement attitude, I am owed something, a couple of you in particular really do not get it, too much whining.

    Do you think this is going to be a smooth transition, not a chance…….Line Officers are going to rail against this big time, they are not going to be your friends especially if you rub their noses in it….be careful not to alienate others, ie the militia, and stop with the GS-12 sitting in camp BS, the overwhelming majority are folks staffing t-2 IA crews, we better make sure they are compensated on fires big time…..

    Really sad that some of you really miss the fact that the DOI and USFS are resource agencies , so doing fuels work, taking care of campgrounds etc. is beneath you.

    I wish you all the best, now that you have the money it’s time to go to work, don’t make the folks that made this happen regret it, the last thing we need is more prima donnas……..Aughhhhhhhhh!

  32. While a qual based sliding pay scale commensurate with the position being performed for both primary fire and militia would be fair and ideal its not a new concept that hasnt already been shot down.
    There’s so many bureaucratic and human flaws in the model it won’t happen. Fact is they would have to institute some kind mandatory obligation into it because many militia and primary fire personnel making themselves available for off district would then cherry pick their assignments based on the qual always aiming for the higher pay. I’ve seen it happen in a short lived and failed AD program….nobody would go out as an FFT2 or 1…could barely put together a crew. Hell we already have the issue at the upper levels, that with the Federal Premium Pay limitation, some double digit GS’ with overhead quals aren’t going out after they hit it leading to a shortage that HR4724 was drafted so they wouldn’t be subjected to the cap. I wish I had the “problem” of my pay being capped at $148k …

    In the end IF we get any significant pay raise and militia wants higher pay for their 2 or 4 weeks out of the year they want to go out on fire assignment they can go to the oh so helpful and effective union and fight for it. Most of us don’t care..hope ya get it…we’re just taking care of ourselves because…well….we have to.

  33. “Pay commensurate to the job” is a pipe dream, unless the emphasis is placed on proper classification. Everyone’s trying to put the cart before the horse. OPM has intentionally misclassified our positions with the help of our own management. THAT is the ongoing problem, NOT militia or fire folks getting paid for their red card jobs. The starting point needs to be a properly graded series, which is a product of real SMEs, competent classifiers, AND the political will to properly classify (which we don’t have). Getting each of these three things is a daunting task and is where our attention must be. I’m glad someone mentioned the union, that reminds me I need to cancel my dues.

  34. Look, unless your SF50 denotes that you’re vested in primary fire retirement you’re not getting to be called a firefighter.

    The so-called line officer that that moonlit on an engine roll (may have even eaten an MRE!) and is working on his/her FFT3 task book doesn’t count and it’s laughable that he/she thinks they know something now. There is no bag of wieners large enough to address the C&C/military vs Line/fire comparo, THAT is insane.

    Moonlighting militia that do an occasional roll for some OT but otherwise have no skin in the REAL game don’t count. You all had plenty of opportunity to commit and get a primary fire job but, for whatever reason, you chose to to hang back and dip an OT toe in fire without full committal, I wonder why that is? Hmmmm…

  35. Great Questions

    My very first post simply posed a question: What will become of the National Qualification System if there is now a new job series and bump in pay? Very open ended and an attempt to generate intelligent comms.

    After that and Once the personal mud flinging started, ( take a look who started it) I felt I needed to paint my personal perspective, GS levels are irrelevant at this point because nobody knows what that OPM actual pay increase will be. For me it’s all about having the same qualifications that are nationally recognized.

    Im simply trying to showcase the complexities of this situation, for example; who decides the pay rates on active fire for 2 people with the same qualifications who simply work in different departments.

    Should person (A) a primary fire technician in their rookie season who just received their FFT2, truly be entitled to higher pay while on active fire, than person (B) a timber tech who’s worked in forestry for let’s say 10 years and is also a FFT2.

    Same exact work, but what about the actual experience. What I’m seeing is that this movement is asking the government to some how measure your assignment complexities, discomfort, or fatigue over the entire season on an individual level, and that’s impossible!

    This is a micro-example and you can insert any qual and any level experience you want. This is as grey as grey gets, and it’s simply going to muddy the waters and stifle the movement. I reject the idea of Fire Management simply getting rid of the militia program, or all quals outside of the new job series. So at this point, I can’t support it unless this is addressed.

  36. I am the training officer on my unit and deal with all IQCS taskings. It’s funny, for years I tried to bolster our capacity with militia. I put on training…they didn’t show. I offered to get them red cards…no joy.
    SUDDENLY, they came crawling out of the woodwork and being extremely persistent about wanting a red card. They all thought that if they had a red card they would get a pay bump and get to slap “fireman” plates on their POV’s Lol. NOPE. Those requests were tabled, I have no time for games and BS like that.

  37. Lol while you’re talking to your union rep that your FAL 1 , FFT1, ICT5 assignments will need to come with higher pay to forget to mention that, as you kindly pointed out, we can get the NG and Contractors to accomplish the same things…probably for cheaper if you’re gonna demand higher pay beyond OT and H for those quals.

    You’re missing the point of “movement”…we want higher pay to recruit and more importantly RETAIN our fire personnel. Too many are bouncing after 6-10yrs taking the quals the fed agencies have put in time and paid for in training and development for other agencies and industries who will pay them more with a better work life balance.

    Also in the infrastructure bill was creating more perm positions so we’re not relying on outside help as much…think of it this way…more FF’s equals more help on your side. I know your budgets are getting cut smaller and smaller withtemp and perm positions getting downsized in trails and rec relying on 5013c’s ACE and CC crews to help…with more FFs we can be around more to help also. I can’t speak for YOUR district but we’re always going out to thin around a campground, clean out fire pits, improve trails, and building stuff when we’re able. We don’t mind, alot better than sitting around….we just haven’t had the bodies or the time to be available for it in recent years.

  38. Its not that the fuels and rec work is “beneath” us….we just don’t have the people, time, or energy to assist anymore. When we’re understaffed and spending half the season sitting in a red flag warning and the other half filling resource orders we really can’t get out there to paint picnic tables…..

    I’d love to be able to get my rookies and snookies more throttle time on the saw clearing trails…but I also want to give em time to recuperate after 2 weeks running and gunning on a fire. Nor can I be beating the hell out of our fire saws to do it and recs budgets are cut so low they can’t afford to provide project saws. I have PRIMARY responsibilities to take into account and attend to first. Regardless of my classification I have to fulfill the obligations in my PD before considering how much other departments are drowning in their projects….which isn’t their fault either at the lower levels for the most part.

    We’re in a bad cycle trying to make things work in a system that has been dysfunctional for years.

  39. I hope people can be positive here in the coming months.

    I just look at it logically and think of land management like a city, with different departments and lots of infrastructure.

    The DOI/USFS is tasked with managing what many of us feel are our most valuable national resources: our public lands. For decades fires were something that everyone joined in on when they occasionally started. As climate change and extreme fires become the norm, the challenge has outpaced the model. There are a lot of reasons for this: low pay, low morale, harassment, temporary employment, health risks (smoke inhalation, trees falling on you, etc…) and now looking forward to the next 20 years (not the last 20 years) our government has decided to try a new model.

    Similar to municipalities, different jobs pay different rates. Now is a good time for people to decide where they want to work, as the work will presumably become more specialized. I personally haven’t been on a fire in the last 10 years that wasn’t full suppression, although others may have different experiences.

    But the same way that cities pay firefighters and police differently than their engineers or asphalt screeders, that’s what will be happening most likely for the USFS/DOI.

    Where will the chips fall? Depends on the SMEs, OPM and our leadership. Nobody can really say at this point.

    Firefighting is my only job besides some occasional fuels work or tree climbing, but that doesn’t mean that newly classified firefighters won’t still be engaged in non-suppression land management work.

    This is probably the minimum needed to start to retain employees. Feds took a 6% pay cut for 2022 after inflation, and in my community COL went up 22%… so gettting a raise here really is a requirement to keep the fire programs going at all

  40. Militia talk aside, what becomes of those fire positions that aren’t primary fire but are still classified as Forestry/Range Tech? People like fuels folks, Tanker Base personnel, and dispatchers? Those who are presently in secondary fire positions. Presumably they wouldn’t make the cut for a wildland firefighter classification (since they aren’t wildland firefighters), but it doesn’t make sense to leave them as 0462/0455. If that’s the case, what happens to secondary coverage in those positions if they’re moved.

    I guess my big question is how far they’re going to go down the rabbit hole with classifications, especially if this classification is going to be used as the basis going forward for advocating for additional pay and benefits. How strict or loose are we (OPM) going to be with the definition of firefighter? Is it someone who actively, physically fights fire or is it someone who’s primary job it is to fight fire?

    I feel like this could quickly get out of hand if we have people up and down the line claim they’re firefighters just because they load tankers, talk on the radio, or do time.

  41. Dude you said “I’ll start a fight…” so then ya got one…lol nice gaslighting….

    To answer your 3rd paragraph…we need to pay FFT2 A more because 1. We need to recruit A, 2. We need A to be an FFT2 all…the…time…and dictate that A will travel where and when fire management says. 3. Show A that when they obtain experience and quals required to fill higher positions at higher GS levels such as, FFT1, XXXB, ICTX, TFLD, DIVS etc that they’ll see a commensurate raise in pay because 4. We need them to stick around instead of bouncing for other non fed agencies who will pay them more.

    You called a 50% or $20k pay raise “a couple of extra bucks” and doubted it could help fill vacancies…..I think you’re still missing the point of “the movement ” and not realizing why we had to go out and fight for this ourselves rather than rely on a union who inexplicably takes up the same fight for DOD FF’s and throws us a boot stipend and night dif and calls it good and really consider the rest of the agency “team” who really hasn’t stood up for us.

    You can’t support it…fine…got news for ya…we really don’t need your support (and we’ve demonstrated that)…especially if its based solely on you getting yours and stomping up and down crying that it’s not fair for you in some naive line of reasoning. We’ve never made it a point when bringing pay up to congress and the public that “GS12s make this” or “biologists make $xx.xx” or “AD’s get paid by qual” etc…its always been “this is our primary duties and what we deal with and this is our compensation and we think it should be higher”. Sure we may point out other agencies pay….but we’re pointing it out because that’s who we’re losing qualified and experienced personnel to….its what we’re competing with as an agency as a whole. Primary fire may lose people to other positions within the agency but its not a loss to the agency overall.

  42. Well its not like there isn’t a shortage in those positions either with a heavy reliance on AD’s and Limdu ffs….if there’s a shortage OPM and the agencies need to take steps to address it…pay being a huge motivator.

    OPM and Agencies have overlooked the human resource side of fire (or hell just fire overall) for so long they need to play catch up in the entire program and they’re reluctant to do so unless forced by congress.

    The question is since specialized non-profits are mainly taking up the fight and lobbying for changes how much resources , time, and energy do they have to also try and “take care” of others like secondary fire and militia and why? Seems like they’re stretched thin as it is and had to go through a ton of effort just to get the current legislation and why is it up to them?

    The union seems to have no interest in taking the issue up and it covers such a broad range of federal employees not sure it feels its their prerogative. Maybe for those on unionized forests and districts and in those positions to take em to task and get something out of their dues for a change.

  43. Okay, enough! You can BM&C all you want about the “militia” but for the most part they are the ones who make sure you’re fed, bedded and have the facilities so you can go out and do your jobs. They’re the ones who run supplies to drop points, clean up your trash and care for your medical needs, put in your radio system and maintain it as well as your radios. Oh by the way, you wouldn’t have internet if it weren’t for the militia, or accurate maps at briefing and countless other support functions you all have come used to having. By the way, they still work 12s or 16s and 14 or 21 day assignments, eat the same crappy food you do and up until the last two years, sleep on the same dirt you do. (BTW the concept of the overhead staff hoteling it while the ground pounders sleep on the ground is B.S.) I have never in my life in the military and for 20 years as an A.D. or Fed “Militia” as well as experiencing my fair share of I.A.’s, cold trailing, etc. etc. as a local government “Blue Shirt” heard so much whining about how bad you’ve got it, but what are you doing to support the folks who have worked tirelessly to get you better pay and conditions? Get off your high horse and do something worthwhile!
    Just my personal opinion…… Have a great day!!

  44. As a GS-11 step 10 militia dude out there as a REAF or a HEQB, if my DIVS is not municipal then I am making more than him/her.

    System is broken.

    Fire and non-fire is broken – we have been doing more with less and will continue that for the rest of my career. Life is hard either way and we need to shake hands, give a hug, and work together.

  45. You touched on something that I don’t think many have. Why are we reclassifying wildland firefighters? Is it because too few people are joining the workforce due to bad pay, and therefor the govt needing to pay market rates to be competitive? Or is it because Wildland Firefighters have a uniquely dangerous and strenuous job and are classified in such a way to deny the reality of that unique danger and strain. And because of that unique danger and strain they should be compensated better than they are now?

    To be clear, it’s obvious that this classification is the first step to better pay for wildland firefighers. But to pay them better they need to define what wildland firefighters actually are. I simply contend that Wildland Firefighters are not people who load tankers or sit and watch TV while occasionally chatting on the radio and typing something stupid on the computer. And then get it wrong anyway.

    Wildland Firefighters are Wildland Firefighters, period. Any additional compensation for ADs or fire adjacent personnel is a completely different discussion.

  46. You touched on something that I don’t think many have. Why are we reclassifying wildland firefighters? Is it because too few people are joining the workforce due to bad pay, and therefor the govt needing to pay market rates to be competitive? Or is it because Wildland Firefighters have a uniquely dangerous and strenuous job and are classified in such a way to deny the reality of that unique danger and strain. And because of that unique danger and strain they should be compensated better than they are now?

    To be clear, it’s obvious that this classification is the first step to better pay for wildland firefighers. But to pay them better they need to define what wildland firefighters actually are. I simply contend that Wildland Firefighters are not people who load tankers or sit and watch TV while occasionally chatting on the radio and typing something stupid on the computer. And then get it wrong anyway.

    Wildland Firefighters are Wildland Firefighters, period. Any additional compensation for ADs or fire adjacent personnel is a completely different discussion.

  47. Why is it up to us and our self started lobbying movements to get militia, overhead, AD’s and whoever else better pay? You want it…go get yourselves. We’re not stopping you or fighting against it.

    Want to force their hand…stop showing up for it then. Thats what primary fire has been doing…people have been bailing left and right and now engines are sitting collecting dust and shot crews are losing T1 status. Then everybody asked why…we said why and now things are hopefully changing.

    Most we can do for ya is, when you stop raising your hand and showing up and doing all the cool stuff you mentioned, start bitching and moaning that we don’t have it and then management is gonna have to make a decision whether or not to incentivize it. Fact is we’re still gonna have go to the fire and take action regardless.

    Just curious why everybody else is taking primary fire to task for something upperleadership should be doing….

  48. Could more details be provided here? If this actually happened – this needs an investigation. And if the agency won’t do it – maybe something like Propublica would.

  49. What should be happy news has degenerated into a “he said, she said” bitch session, based upon my reading of the previous 47 comments, Makes me glad I’m retired and not working on IMTs anymore. (PS – I did not retire with FF bennies). Time to move beyond petty in-fighting and be happy that things might finally improving.

  50. It seems all these post-911 ‘wildland firefighters’ just want to be heroes, and responding to a wildfire is heroic. Proactively managing fuels, traditionally a wildland firefighter’s job, isn’t heroic, so they don’t want to do it. “Let the fuel techs do it,” they say, “that’s not my job.” Wrong answer, it’s your job. If you want to be a wildland firefighter, then wildland fuels are part of your job. The odd thing is, actually managing fuels should reduce some of the reasons given for the special wildland firefighter designation. That makes one suspicious there is a different motivation here: lack of fuels management means more long fire seasons, which translates to bigger paychecks. That sounds like a conflict of interest.

  51. So glad the folks on my District are stoked for the raise, they understand fire is the biggest boat to get the waves moving. Might get a joke of “you’re buying lunch when this happens.” But they aren’t petty and shortsighted, they understand how this can lead to change in their departments as well.

  52. The fact that a militia non primary fire person is out there as a DIVS is kind of scary to me.

  53. Get over yourself. We get it. You can run a saw and someone signed off you basic quals. Good for you. You want to work fire? Come over and work as a GS-5 because that’s about the level you’re at work j the fire world.

  54. “Should person (A) a primary fire technician in their rookie season who just received their FFT2, truly be entitled to higher pay while on active fire, than person (B) a timber tech who’s worked in forestry for let’s say 10 years and is also a FFT2.”

    YES. They are risking their lives and miss out on so much in life. If you would like a pay bump switch to the fire side.

  55. He’s not saying he’s a DIVS. They’re saying if its mainly a fed as DIVS he’s usually making more than them as a REAF and HEQB.

    And a municipal or even militia DIVS isn’t that scary…I mean we are the ones taking off those municipal jobs once we get the qual or moving into non or secondary fire position for better work life balance and GS rate…doesn’t mean the experience and knowledge just disappears

  56. If FFT2 B is a GS 7/8/9/11/13 and goes out as an FFT2 should their pay lower then based on what they’re contributing? I mean they’re really just swinging a tool, don’t supervise anybody, and have no responsibility except to answer to a squad boss who is probably a GS 5 or 6 who’s will still probably being making less after a pay bump.

    A sliding pay scale based on quals slides both ways.

  57. Weird. “Proactively managing fuels” doesn’t appear in my PD. Anywhere. I still do it. And I don’t know a single primary firefighter who complains about doing it. It’s funny. On my district, we do the project leg work. The GS-whatever desk jockeys come up with the projects while cozy at home and fire crews complete them. And we complete those projects on our weekends when we have to staff because of potential fire activity. Meanwhile, the GS-fantastics are at their kid’s baseball game.

    That said, we should absolutely draw a line between fuels and fire. “Proactively managing fuels” takes fire ecologists, foresters, and fuels specialists. It does not take firefighters. And it shouldn’t. There should be a separation so that the fire staff can manage emergency fire situations. And fuels staff can manage fuels issues.

    Boggles my mind reading all these people reply who obviously have no clue what it’s like to work primary fire in today’s fire environment.

  58. I’m a primary wildland firefighter that works for the state and see some concerning issues starting to come out. In Wildland Fire we need to focus on Fire Management, not just suppression. We are in this national crisis because we tried to rid the land of fire. I hope these primary Fire Positions highlight the full spectrum of fire management and not just suppression. If you’re not fighting fire, you should be lighting fire.

  59. Does anyone know who is on the Working Groups? Who are the leads? Who’s on the Sub-Groups or who’s on the Focus Groups? ’cause it would be nice if someone on the working groups, sub-groups, and focus groups were people who actually were firefighters. Just a thought!!! 🙂

  60. Just a retort no wff module refuses to do fuels Management projects hoping we get more fires that’s not real. The reason primary fire folks don’t give full effort to fuels Management projects is we already worked 1000 hours of overtime and can’t really go full bore 365 days a year.

  61. It’s like a bad marriage. At first we loved each other. But now we have changed. Been in a divorce for years. We just can’t figure out our finances.

  62. I think the folks that have the career ladders in place shouldn’t be upset that firefighters are being reclassified. If the agency stepped up and offered career ladder positions based on quals, I don’t think anybody would really care about the Forestry Technician vs. Wildland Firefighter title.

    I go on a fire and the timber guy who is a READ as a GS13 is literally offering me a GS 7/9/11 position if I have an associates degree that I can get while working to be a GS11. Most people I know are 15 years in and GS6 in Fire…

    The reason we made a push for classification change was to get equity in pay with the rest of land management employees.

    You guys do realize the average federal employee is a non-supervisory GS12? Well there is only one GS12 at a jump base and it’s the base manager with 50 employees under them. IHC sups are GS9s with incredible responsibilities.

    No one is knocking Timber Techs or Biologists, but these labor jobs are hard to recruit and we need to pay more. This will bring in more funding for the entire FS/DOI, and awareness of the need is coming from fire folks educating lawmakers.

    Keep the faith and again, let’s move forward together.

  63. You’re spot on. The fire suppression mentality of the past got us into the current situation. Only using the full suite of fire management activities will get us out. I’d like to think this new designation is a step in that direction, but if the comments on this thread are representative of the larger wildland fire community, it won’t. All I see here is a bunch of people who want to perpetuate the problem they were handed, and they want more money to do so.

  64. Carl…do tell us what a smoke jumper, Engine Capt, or a IHC or helitack Supt. and their subordinates are supposed to do about the fuels management issues? You speak like they can just decide where to thin and cut away or just conduct an RX wherever they feel is best. Those things are already assigned to others. If an FMO or Ranger tells em they have to cut or burn…they do…they’re not really in the position of having options. Tell us when and where are they gonna find the time to manage the fuels themselves instead of the fuels techs when half the year they’re training, dealing with tons of bureaucracy and inordinate amounts of admin, (you know all the hero stuff) and then SENT/ORDERED to fires….then the other half of the year 2/3 of the workforce gets laid off…so they’re stuck with a handful of people and 8hrs (no OT) to accomplish projects that take 2 or 3 hours to drive to. Not to mention the post season bureaucracy they have to deal with, mandatory district meetings that seem to go nowhere and then hiring.

    Yes Carl tell us your grand scheme to add fuels management to their plate, having them determining fuels policy, conducting site surveys, and filling out NEPA paperwork. But please consider when showing us your grand plan…that maybe the management and fuels personnel (who are actually hired to do all that…its their literal job description) can take care of the hiring for them…or at least handle their travel since they’re in the office with computer access….

  65. Rigghhhht on DRHS

    1990s USDOI NorCal / USFWS NO Nevada….BD, fixing fence, painting picnic tables, choppin wood, clearing sage brush, whatnot……hell…many of welcomed a lil RX burn here and there….1991-1993 GS4 …$7.36 an hour…travel back n forth to the Midwest
    That was all in between USAR and ARNG assignments between two different States….Life is hard alllllll over

  66. Can a current GS-13 program manager get paid those GS-13 wages while assigned in a supply unit getting 16’s? Can a GS-15 Branch Chief get to go out for a long weekend and get the same pay as the GS- 8’s and 9’s that are ultimately under his charge, in order to pay for a new BBQ set up in the backyard? The answer is yes. Yes they can and they do. I don’t recall ever where I was given a stipend on what quals I had nor more money for using those quals. If you are out there swinging a tool on a fire and you are not in a fire position?? Then you get hazard pay. That’s the more money you make.

    That being said, I just think this would be sooo hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic ON BOTH COUNTS.

  67. That is absolutely disappointing that nobody shows up for the training. Personally, I would revel at the chance to increase knowledge at any level of forestry. Everything From fixing pumps to getting a CDL so I can operate a type 3 as Militia, and everything in between.

    But for both of us, these are just anecdotal examples on a blog and your not thinking at the level OPM will. They will do everything to poke holes through this.

    I would also caution about getting high as a kite over a very basic timeline . There hasn’t been any finish lines crossed. If I didn’t know better, It’s like you all couldn’t wait to start the chest pounding , like you are the only true arbiters of firefighting and nobody else could possibly “get it”

  68. One of the problems is that Forest Supervisors have monetary bonuses based (at times) on acres burned. So they will send the forestry technicians out to the grasslands to add up acres, triggering the GS15 bonus. Meanwhile the fuels around the compromised community continue to grow…

    It’s a perverse system, that incentivizes these forest sups to do the wrong thing. And before the town burns up the forest sup just moves to another forest.

    Then when the town burns up the forestry technicians are out breathing in the smoke and pulling out bodies. Sorry, this is such an inequitable system, it’s high time the lowest paid people (Primary Fire Forestry Technicians) got a bit of help from our government.

  69. Way to go Firefighter Series advocates. Instead of just asking for more money, which it sounds like is the crux of the problem, you’ve managed to separate yourselves from the rest of the functions. This new series sounds like it’s going to alienate you from the rest of the district by saying “sorry, I don’t have time to help you out with your guzzler project because I’m too busy waiting for another fire”. It would have been so much simpler to just go for the pay raise, keep your other duties as assigned, helping each other out. I can certainly see whatever amount of militia that is left saying “sorry, I can’t help staff your engine today because I have to go and install a guzzler today”. And you wonder why the Line Officer’s may not be supportive.

  70. You’re missing the point. Many on this thread are stating that firefighters don’t do fuels management, that’s the fuels tech’s job. Ok, who does the prep work, conducts the burn, then mops up and patrols? Are you telling me it’s not the job of a smoke jumper, engine capt., or a IHC or helitack supt. to be part of Rx fire? Of course it’s part of their job, so why are so many here saying it’s not? If firefighters don’t have a role in Rx fire, who does?

    And the fuels tech that so many are dismissing as not a firefighter – what if he’s a GS 9, in a secondary 6c position, and goes out as a TFLD? Maybe he talks with the biologist for section 7 info and the archeologist for section 106 info, or the FMO regarding NEPA when writing burn plans. These are administrative duties that are not usually primary firefighter duties – but he’s in 6c retirement. So, because he’s secondary fire he’s not a firefighter?

    Yes, I understand the desire for increased pay. The federal gov’t is overly tight when it gets to pay. That said, insisting that only primary firefighters, those who man a nozzle or swing a Pulaski, are firefighters is wrong. Stop pretending that narrow little niche in the fire world is the entirety of fire. It isn’t.

  71. You’re obviously retired and don’t understand the current situation. We still do help out other functions and always will. The issue is we don’t have the time anymore. This is not the 80s, 90s or even early 2000s. We spent 100 days last year in PL 4/5. Our folks are fighting fires everyday and whole towns are burning down. Sorry we don’t have time that we used to do everyone else’s work also. Times have changed, whether you understand it or not. I love the fact that people are on here trying to keep others from getting paid what they deserve.

  72. Read through the comments again Carl….NOBODY is saying that fuels projects work and RX is not their job. You’d be hard pressed to find a primary fire person who wouldn’t do an RX just out of a “not my job mentality” they may have other reasons at times due to their own commitments.

    Whats not in their job is ensuring that the projects are planned, scheduled and implemented. They’re just there to execute….

    See it every year after a long exhausting season either just away from home or off district the fire budget is spent and sufdenly the seasonals have to get laid off both temp and career….and its left to the few PFTs to repair and refurbish the vehicles and equipment. But oh hey there’s this priority project or RX and its gonna be a few days or a week overnight getting it done…and hey we’ll keep some seasonals on too to help….

    I can see why there’s pushback in a pay raise from upper management…they know they won’t be able to dangle that project work to stay on away from home a bit more trying to get a few scraps more of pay and OT.

    But included in the infrastructure bill along with the reclassification and pay raises was more perm positions that have a required hours of fuels work….there was some tit for tat in drawing up this bill. So not sure why anybody is getting uptight about the classification whilst ignoring the other parts of the legislature

  73. All the militia we have where I work just go off district once in awhile. Their management considers their work on district a priority to do their primary jobs rather than staffing local resources (rightfully so I assume, they’re undermanned and have less money these days)….so no skin off my back if they’re “alienated”.

    Ill probably go help em with whatever they need if I got the time…or my supervisors tell me…really don’t have an alternative option.

  74. OK, so three + months of FF. I don’t see that happening every year, everywhere. I just see this series separating the fire folks from the rest of the district. Hopefully, the supervision is strong enough to not let that happen. We’ll see how the job description and pd come out and how different it is to the FT. And, if there’s not much difference, why go to the trouble? Can’t see this happening anyway, can’t get one job filled in 5 mos, let alone develop a whole new series. I hope GR has a grand plan to increase pay sooner than getting a new series in place.

  75. The comment sections never disappoint. Always entertaining!!! I’ll jump in with my two cents.

    The current change that OPM is going to make due to the Infrastructure bill and potentially the other two is not about IQCS qualifications, militia, support roles on incidents, line officers, GS9, 11 or 12s in other programs. It is very specifically about those women and men who are currently in fire positions. In other words, those who work for the fire programs for USFS, Fish and Wildlife, BIA, BLM, NPS and other federal agencies. Those in fire jobs have been classified as range and forestry techs and not fire fighters. That is why it is changing. Rec, forestry, biologists and others within the federal government are not fire fighters. It is not their day job. As an engine captain it is my day job. Same with shots, jumpers, FMOs, AFMOs, helitack, etc. These positions are the ones that are going to be in the new pay series. As it should be. Its not about other positions within the federal government. At this very moment that is what is important and that is what needs to be worked out.

    The big question is going to be which positions with in the fire programs are getting the new classification. Several of the previous comments touched on this. Will it include fuels positions? Personally I think it should. The expectations for operational and fuels personnel have pretty much been the same every where I have worked. We go to the same fires and we work on the same prescribed fires. I think the harder question is going to be what happens to prevention and dispatch positions. My guess is at some point, if not right away, those positions will be included. To me it makes the most sense to include all positions with in the Agency Fire Program. But as we all know, the most sense doesn’t always work out.
    In regards to militia, support positions on fires, that may need to be worked out as well. Possibly a qualification table similar to the AD rates that gives a rate dependent of the position one is filling on a fire assignment. If you are a wildlife biologist and you take a two week assignment as a TFLD you rate is xx. If you are recreation tech but are qualified as a FFT1 or FFT2 and want to go on a t2 crew the rate is x and y. But, what this also means is just because you are a GS9, 11, 12 or 13 doesn’t mean you get your GS 9, 11, 12 or 13 rate. You get the rate of the position you fill. You don’t get to be a GS11 and fill in as a engine crew member and get your GS11 rate. You get the FFT2 or FFT1 rate.
    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and exactly what the new series looks like. My guess is there will be some changes and tweeks to the series in the years to follow. My first perm job in fire was an 18-8 GS5 Assistant Engine Captain position. That position is now a GS6/7 and the current Captain position I have is a GS 8 PFT. Things will change and as this new series comes into effect there will likely be other changes that trickle down/over to other aspects of fire, overhead, support positions. Change is the only constant.

  76. I just read through the comments. Mostly you’re right – most aren’t saying fuels project work and RX fire is not their job. A few, however, are. Some examples:

    “If there is so much fuels work to be done, then maybe some fuels techs should be doing it, like how their special title implies.”

    “‘Proactively managing fuels’ doesn’t appear in my PD … We should absolutely draw a line between fuels and fire. ‘Proactively managing fuels’ takes fire ecologists, foresters, and fuels specialists. It does not take firefighters. And it shouldn’t. There should be a separation so that the fire staff can manage emergency fire situations. And fuels staff can manage fuels issues.”

    As noted before, firefighters should get a pay bump – they’ve been held back for years. They should still be a part of the different agencies, and they should still be part of fuels management. Fire doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

  77. 40803(d) — Contains provisions to change firefighter positions and pay:
    • directs USDA and DOI, in coordination with the Office of Personnel Management, to establish a new “wildland firefighter” occupational series. Employees would have choice of switching to the new series.
    • The new series would not affect hazardous duty differential
    • Using the amounts made available under subsection (c)(2), starting in FY22, FS and DOI will seek to a) convert no fewer than 1,000 seasonal wildland firefighters to wildland fire managers that are full-time, permanent and year-round while also holding responsibilities for reducing hazardous fuels on federal land (no fewer than 800 hours per year) and (b) increase the base salary of a Federal wildland firefighter by the lesser of an amount that is commensurate with an increase of $20,000 per year or an amount equal to 50 percent of the base salary, if the Secretary concerned, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, makes a written determination that the position of the Federal wildland firefighter is located within a specified geographic area in which it is difficult to recruit or to retain a Federal wildland firefighter.
    • Using the amounts made available under subsection (c)(2), starting in FY22, DOI and FS shall—develop and adhere to recommendations for mitigation strategies for wildland firefighters to minimize exposure due to line-of-duty environmental hazards and establish programs for permanent, temporary, seasonal, and year-round wildland firefighters to recognize and address mental health needs, including post-traumatic stress disorder care.

  78. As for why they are going though all the trouble is with the passage of the bill they are now required to. Why a reclassification was pushed is far more than JUST pay, it does allow for more leverage in other support functions for FFs like mental health services, benefits and compensation. The model of just using and abusing a temp seasonal hotshot all summer long and then laying them off and not worrying about them anymore leaving them to deal with things themselves is outdated and exploitive at worst. We can’t treat them just like every other forestry tech anymore…they are exposed to so much more stressors and health hazards we’ve got to take care of our people.

    I’m only guessing that the example attitudes you provided come from frustration of getting beat up all summer only to be pulled into projects and then be discarded by October and then having listening to folks who have more security, benefits, and pay complaining that they may be excluded from some pay bump….a lot of FFs have been excluded from many comforts afforded other employees and told “You don’t get that because xxxx” or “that’s what you signed up for” Now that they’re getting something they’re due they’re really not in the mood to listen to everybody else ask “whats in it for me?” Or “wheres mine?”

    People shouldn’t take it so insultingly that FF’s are now saying “You don’t get that because xxxx” or “that’s what you signed up for” because that’s what they’ve been told most of their careers…the system conditioned that response.

  79. DK I asked the same thing about a qual based sliding scale, but it was a bit facetious. Pretty sure legally the government can’t pay anybody LESS than their pay scale. So a GS13 being an FFT1 or 2 would still get paid as a GS13. Union lawyers would have a field day with that policy.

    Sliding up would also present problems because you’d have people both primary fire and militia cherry picking assignments for a higher rate and we’d get UTFs for all kinds of lower positions. Not to mention infighting over trainee assignments…its bad enough as it is…

  80. I see your point on the legality side of things if a GS13 went out as a FFT2. On the other hand if they choose to do it knowing that really is on them. Of course as you say that would likely be an issue so it probably wont happen. As far as primary fire fighters my point was that the sliding scale wouldn’t affect them. We are already being compensated by the change in the fire pay scale. The qual based sliding scale would be for those non fire employees choosing to take a fire assignment. As an engine captain if I went as a TFLD or DIVS I would simply fight fire at my current rate just as we do now.

  81. Big Ernie,
    I’ve seen those paragraphs before, is that in response to my statement regarding which positions with in the fire program that may or may not be added to the new series? Fuels, operations, dispatch, etc or regarding a recreation/biologist position taking an assignment?

  82. DK,
    Not directed at you, just pointing out what’s in the Forestry Provisions-Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Enrolled Bill). Just thought it was interesting that you will get to choose: “Employees would have choice of switching to the new series”. Curious like you what positions will be affected and what the big differences will be in making the switch? Seems like lots of unknowns…

  83. I am going to stick my neck out here and just guess that most of you have never managed a fire program, most fire programs are not in R-5 where you have crews and engines stacked on top of one another, most programs truly depend on their militia to get the job done, suppression and RX, there is no way we could accomplish one thing without them, as some of you have stated you really do not care about them as long as you get yours…..how sad…..

    The NPS depends on these folk, FMO’s spend real time growing the militia program, we have developed solid skills and leadership, a lot of folks do not want to be in fire full time, but are willing to help when asked….
    So just lay off, what are you going to do when fire season returns the so called normal, and it will…..this is not the 80’s 90’s 2000’s, whatever…..just stop….You try to make it sound like you have reinvented FF, it’s so hard now it’s never been this hard, oh and retired folks have no clue….that’s rich….I started in 1980 and I am fairly sure we have been working at least that long to have what you got…..be very thankful.
    There is nothing new under the sun, it’s all been done before….really it has…….
    You all need to ease up a bit on the militia…..

  84. The choosing to switch to the new series will be interesting. I’m curious as well to see how that part plays out. I think you’re right about the unknowns. I can see the direction being given to be interpided quite differently by those in the working group.

  85. I think most people in fire appreciate any militia who take the time to help on fires and RX in all the various positions. We have a few that are still red carded at the arduous level, most are in other support roles. Its not a huge group for us and I think for a lot of programs around the country the numbers of militia have shrunk. We are more specialized these days in the federal agencies which I think is a good thing, it was needed, but the downside to that is less cross training and understanding of other disciplines and programs. One of the results of that is less people being willing to be militia or those militia that are around aren’t always available when the time comes to fight fire or burn. I don’t hold it against them at all. They have very busy jobs that are time consuming and are probably in a similar boat as fire, burned out and need to fill positions. They also have personal lives and have the flexibility to make that a priority, at least a little more than most fire fighters during the summer.
    I don’t think the commenters above only care about getting theirs. And I don’t think that they don’t care about militia. I do think that there are times when we in fire do get frustrated with militia because some of them don’t always understand the level of commitment it takes or what is expected. Some of that may be on us for not explaining well enough what it takes or maybe we just need to be a bit more patient with them so they do understand. For about 10 years I taught the yearly refresher class to our folks in the office. I would send out emails, post flyers all around the office months in advance and usually scheduled 3 or 4 classes so every one could fit it into their busy schedules. Still I would have people wanting to show up late, leave early, do work on their computers during the class or schedule a meeting/phone call in the middle of class. That wasn’t all of them, it was a small percentage but that kind of thing does get old. When we have fires or burns we get asked if they can be done by a certain time or I’m only available for a day or two. It can get frustrating, but again they have other priorities, busy schedules and fire isn’t the first on the list. And it shouldn’t be. But that also means that when these bills come out and get implemented they are being implemented for primary fire fighters not militia. Doesn’t mean there won’t be some changes at some point but that is not the intent of these bills and at this particular point in time it shouldn’t be. We are thankful, I was recently converted from a GS 7 13-13 to a GS8 PFT. I’m extremely thankful for that. I would have kept working as a 7, but am very happy to be an 8. Likewise whenever this new series is created and whatever changes come after that I will be extremely thankful.

    As far as the 80s 90s and 2000’s, no one that I know of is saying we have reinvented fire fighting. Anchor, pinch and flank is still what we try to do. Fire seasons will not return to “normal” in my career or likely the next generations career. The Yellowstone fires of the eighties were one of the first signs that fire behavior and fire seasons were changing and it has continued ever since. I moved to Colorado in 2006, we have set new record after new record after new record in the 16 years I have been here. We just set another one this month with the most destructive fire in state history. Not the biggest, not even close but the most destructive…in January!!! We are seeing fire behavior we haven’t seen or witnessed before. Fuel loading (due to fire suppression), climate change has increased fire intensity, size, and season length. The issues around climate change aren’t going to be fixed anytime soon, which means the climate and weather impacts on fuels (drought, disease, stress, etc) won’t be either. I was in Idaho a few years back working as TFLD on the Pioneer fire. As I was heading back to camp at the end of shift I was at a vantage point where I could see the column as the most northern part of the fire (which was not staffed yet) was blowing up. It was the widest column/plume I had ever seen. I wasn’t the only one.

    Part of the reason for the infrastructure bill as well as the others currently in congress is to address exactly what you stated. To increase personnel, crews, engines, etc so that we don’t have to rely on militia. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any need for them or opportunities but to recruit personnel, retain personnel and fill positions that aren’t being filled.

    At this point all we can do is wait to see what happens with the OPM working group and wether or not the other bills pass. I’m sure there will be a lot of news in the coming months and a lot more discussions to be had in the comment sections. It will likely be a busy season again, at least in parts of the country. Stay safe everyone, look out for each other. Enjoy what left of the “off season”.

  86. The reclassification is going to happen its not an if or when and the only people who will have a say in the matter are the Forestry Techs determined eligible for the classification when they get to decide whether or not to convert.

    Primary Fire personnel are already separated from the rest of the district to different degrees and the various districts. I went from one that gave us a uniform allowance to another that laughed at the thought…meanwhile we’re out there building fence in the cold with our own coats tearing em up while the techs from the dept we are working along side with us in their issued coats. There’s other examples of similar things…going to training in the off season unpaid…bombarded with welcome, baby, goodbye or retirement, promotion congrats etc emails about people on district and nothing about the achievements of fire folks.

    While some of that sounds petty and maybe I’ve just worked in some toxic places (its just the first of many things that come to mind)…I and other folks from different places have felt that fire has meant to be unseen and unheard in the background at times only to be pushed up front when the agency needed some good PR…

    But while we ourselves have been shuffled to the side….we’re also the first ones called to help other programs when they need it because the mentality has been we just sit around waiting and we’re the “big strong folk that can do it”…so while fire will get asked to help Timber move paint, help Rec paint signs, help biologists build guzzlers, help Ops build fence, help silviculture count trees,, build corrals, paint buildings, clear trails it goes on…..you rarely see cross over between the other departments. Maybe rec or trails gets pulled in on side stuff if they have a “crew”….but you’re not gonna see an archeologist counting trees, wildlife biologist marking timber, or the front desk person clearing a trail.

  87. But that’s the great thing about being a Forestry Technician, you get the opportunity and experience to do a variety of jobs, not just firefighting. It’s the District Ranger’s job to pull everyone together to work as a team. I hope it’s happening more often than not. I also hope the new series won’t contribute to a divided workforce.

  88. It’s ok Bro, I’ll buy you the Filson FS cruiser jacket, or teach you how to sew up your torn jacket and broken heart.

    Hopefully we can develop the Hurt Feelings Index, similar to the other indices in Wildland. Factors would include things such as pride, hot days, and camp catering rankings. There’s talk of a weekly firefighter parade next year too!

    Thanks for moving the timber paint.

  89. And, you’ve alluded to my point. In your example, you won’t see Firefighters helping out other functions anymore. They’ll just be waiting around for the next fire, doing whatever it is they do, getting paid more to do it.
    Also, spare the “poor me, we’re worn out from being gone all summer”. Go do something else.

  90. You want numbers well here you go!

    I’m a GS-12 Fire Management Officer (FMO) after 25 years of primary/secondary firefighting for the Feds with the highest qual of OPS2. I am discussed with what I’m reading here, doesn’t Duty “Respect” and Integrity mean anything to this (initialed) group? I have missed every summer funeral, wedding, family reunion, etc. because it was my job to keep rolling on fires – as a hotshot that’s what you do.

    I had a career ending knee injury and became a FMO faced with new challenges, like a line office that doesn’t support fire, not having enough firefighters to get the job done, constantly being asked to do more with less.

    Here’s some perspective – we need everyone to get the job done and I love having a (Red Carded) line officer that supports fire and don’t care if they get paid extra if that will help the boots on the ground and communities at risk. I lean heavily on the militia and who cares if they get a few extra $$ for helping, most are great people who work hard – so stop being petty. More firefighters are needed to get the job done, and they are the priority to get this increase in pay not just for the work they do but for their sacrifices and future cancer.

    If your part of the militia ask yourself – would you miss all of your family/best friends weddings, family reunions, and funerals because a fire call? And yes I signed up for this because it’s something I believe in and willing to sacrifice for, if you don’t understand you never will. For our firefighters we NEED all the help we can get, and remember when you speak it represent all of us – much of what I have read on both sides is shameful. Nothing you say or do will affect this outcome. Most of what I hear is fear and anger – remember this is a “good thing” and a long time coming we should all be grateful.

  91. I would like for you to tell me this to my face. My husband died being a firefighter last year but he was according to the USFS, a forestry technician. It is absolutley insulting for him or anyone else fighting fires as their primary position to be called anyhting other than a firefighter. And to be paid accordingly to the very real danger they are in.

    Also he was gone all summer. I would be lucky to see him twice in a season. We tried to have kids but with his schedule it was difficult to get in for fertility appointments. And now he is gone forever and we will never have the opportunity to live out our dreams. Do not tell me that he and his brothers and sisters do not deserve this.

  92. Is that what you got out of it tree counting beast?

    Talk about hurt feelings…all we’re saying is we’ve been part of the team and taking it for years. We get just a potential for pay raise all off a sudden everybody thats a product of the pathways program takes a break from surfing youtube videos all day while “teleworking” and comes here asking “where’s mine?”…as if we know…we don’t know…. want pay for being militia go to the union and get it. I could careless if they get paid more…we just want what we think is fair for what we do.

    Its like an engine seasonal asking how come they can’t get as much OT as the hotshot seasonal…well if they want it they can go apply for a crew or lobby to get out more.

    No need to buy me a jacket…put the cash towards the foundation or a go fund me for some forestry tech (fire). If you don’t want to give to us I’m sure there’s some Tree Counters foundation for all the injured and LODD cruisers out there.

    And for the retired dude trying to stay relevant….no need to go do something else…gonna stick it out since it looks like there’s potential for everything to improve for us…regardless of what you think about it.

  93. As a person who started as a GS3 timber cruising fire militia member and subsequently moved to a primary fire job where I was a PSE for a decade and a half the derogatory comments about the militia, position reclassification and line officers are unfortunately not unexpected. Rather they are just a reminder of why I left: burnt out, negative people who can’t see the forest for the trees and will happily look around for someone to tear down or something to bitch about, even when something that on balance is good is happening. I know, I became one.

    I left and I suggest that if your attitude and outlook is so poor that you view people in the militia as competition, line officers as causing all of your problems and can’t find something to be positive about that you take a hard look at what you are spending your life doing and consider a change. I did, and it was transformative. I was there in that dark headspace. You don’t have to stay there. The skills you have acquired can be put to good use elsewhere.

    Congratulations to the WFF community for getting Congress to pay attention and the first steps you are taking towards a new future. Don’t forget all of the people in the rest of the organization, militia or otherwise, who do support you, who fill in logistics and dispatch and make maps and all of the other parts of a fire organization that it takes to support the crews on the line or one day you might be looking around wondering why no wants to fill those positions anymore, just like fewer and fewer want to fill primary fire positions. The big picture goal, IMO, should be to build a strong, resilient fire organization that can continue to function into the future.

  94. We haven’t forgotten the all of the people in the rest of the organization, militia or otherwise and all they do. Its kind of hard when after the WFF community went out and lobbied for pay, a new classification, and better mental health assistance on their own and the first thing they ask is how it benefits them and then go on to remind us allllll they do for us.

    Its not coming from an air of superiority or ego…we wanted improvements…are working towards that and the response is that it’s somehow insulting that some WFF might get paid more than others in the agency.

    Like for some reason the people who jump out of planes, rappel out of helicopters, bounce around the mountain roads in buggies and engines are supposed to be happy with the %25 bump with H and the opportunity to work tons of extra hours and shouldn’t dare suggest that it might be fair they might make a lil more than Rec tech or Cruiser who “does the same job or has the same quals” or God forbid the support staff back in camp.

    Realistically this whole movement within the WFF could careless what the rest of the organization makes more or less….most of us just care what we make and thats it. But they can expect flak when ,and you can scroll up and read em” they make comments alluding to that they can’t support the efforts unless they get theirs too or somehow we’re just gonna stop showing up to RX burns or helping the rest of the agency because we get a reclassification.

    The BLM changed all their fire Range Techs into Forestry Techs…they didn’t suddenly stop building fence on cattle allotments or assisting with the horses, or reseeding fire scars with grass because it wasn’t “forestry tech work” they went out and did what they were told. We’ll still work for FMOs…if the FMO says go assist Trails…they’re gonna go assist trails.

  95. This is the most boomer response I´ve ever heard. You might as well have told us to get off your lawn.

    1. ¨What are you going to do when fire season returns the so called normal and it will¨ No, it will not. Climate change has assured us this is a freight train that isn´t slowing down.
    2. ¨You try to make it sound like you have reinvented FF, it’s so hard now it’s never been this hard, oh and retired folks have no clue….that’s rich….I started in 1980 and I am fairly sure we have been working at least that long to have what you got…..be very thankful.¨
    Firefighting has changed immensely since then, trying to compare tactics, severity and complexity of incidence and retention to back then is laughable.
    3. ¨There is nothing new under the sun, it’s all been done before….really it has¨ While that expression is great, it denies the fact that in 80s, 90s, and early 2000´s seeing a fire go 100k, 200k or 400k acres was a major event. For us, that´s just another Tuesday.

    Your disdain for firefighters wanting to finally get pay commiserate with the work we do is frankly disgusting. And save us the ¨than go do something else¨. Because we already are, then your boomer self will scream ¨why doesn´t anyone want to fight fire anymore¨ Well golly jeepers gramps we went to do something else.

  96. I’ll respond to this one. First of all, there will be fire seasons that are so called “normal”, whatever normal is anymore, but less severe in nature, in the future. Especially if more resources are added and additional fuels treatment is going to happen, not to mention the large old burns out there to work from. Yes, there is more large acreage to burn, but it’ll help the local fire management folks out in those areas. Firefighting has changed in last 20 years or so, generally speaking, more burning out (easier than cutting line, for example), and more aircraft use (easier than laying 5000′ feet of hose, for example). Anybody can drag a drip torch or tell a helicopter or air tanker to load and return until there’s no more smoke. Yes, more fires get bigger these days, largely due to past fire management, but also due to less aggressive IA (generally), and more burning out. I’m not saying it happens all the time, but it happens much more often than it did 20, 30, 40+ years ago. I’ve personally seen it. Lastly, I get the impression that everyone is in favor of being paid more, no argument there. I don’t think a separate series is going to buy anything when the focus should be on getting a pay raise.

  97. At this time, I don’t see any incentives to maintain qualifications outside of ones needed for your current position. I may be wrong on this but I haven’t seen any bonuses or additional pay for having any current “extra curricular” qualifications; examples being, First aid CPR instructor, Tree Climber, forklift operator, Commercial Drivers License, or Trailer qualified, to name a few. To my knowledge there hasn’t been any form of incentive to acquire qualifications outside of your current position description, and personally I don’t see that changing.

    I also haven’t heard of any plans to remove or alter the Militia or A.D. programs. As far as I’m aware, the main goal of this “review/revamp” of the “Fire” series, is more of a “Quality of Life” change for current primary and secondary fire personnel.

  98. https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/intelligence/2020_statssumm/wildfire_charts_tables20.pdf

    I would never tell anyone to get off my lawn, and to be sure I am very happy for the FED FF, how could I not be, you all deserve a pay raise, you betcha.
    My son and I just had a conversation the other day as to whether or not I am a boomer, he was thinking I was a Gen-x or something, I assure him that I am a very young Boomer, just turned 60. Half serious half joking he said we are the problem, and I said once we are gone you can just roll it up, our country is done for, again half jo0king half serious.

    There is going to come a time when fire seasons will never break 3-4 mil ac burned a year, think about, once we punch enough holes in the landscape, not sure how long it will take but we are on our way. Many large fires hit recent burn scars and fall flat on their face.

    FMObro, I agree with nearly all of your comments 2 b sure, I to was a GS-12 FMO trying my very best to manage a very complex program with only a few folks, it’s tough out there, we need more folks to go along with the pay raise…..Peace.
    DK….You are a very sharp individual, I wish you the very best, you are well on your way to making a difference..

    Oh….do not appreciate the disrespectful comments Gramps—-lol………. Duty….Respect and Integrity…..

  99. After multiple desk audits of a FS fire position it was found the assigned duties were at a higher grade than the agency has assigned to the position. The agency did not remove assigned duties to keep it at the current grade or upgrade the position to a higher GS level as required by policy. 25 people with that position followed the appeal process and appealed to OPM for a decision due to lack of action by the agency. During the reveiw process appealing employees and their supervisors were interviewed to explore duties assigned to evaluate the PD for accuracy and recommend changes if needed. It was found the PDs were not accurate to the assigned duties, but somehow R5 FAM was also interviewed, and although they had no direct experience preforming the duties or relevant supervisory experience supervising the appellants their input outweighed that of the appealing employees and their supervisors, which is why certain PDs in the database do not make sense. For example FS 6696 requires the employee to be TFLD but PROHIBITS the employee from taking a suppression role of incidents of type 1, 2, or 3 complexity (TFLD is not required by FSFPM for this position). It also states a fire employee is prohibited from carrying over 45 pounds and anything in excess of that is easily retrievable from their vehicle. There is a lot more issues beyond these examples in FS9964, 9965, and this example cited. This is my concern with OPM involvement as we move forward with the classification and re-drafting of PDs. I feel we are not having the right people at the steering wheel.

  100. I couldn’t care less about a guzzler project. I couldn’t care less about spraying weeds and I couldn’t care less about marking timber that is never going to get cut. I don’t see the value in any of that work. The recreation people are alright they seem like the only ones other than fire/fuels who actually do anything meaningful. They never help us out though and we help them out all the time.

    The biggest obstacle to our fuels program is the GS-11 “ologists” on the I-D team. Those same people only join the “militia” as READs and AAs and then become the single biggest obstacle to fire suppression too.

    I would love more separation from the other departments. And I don’t see how it would hurt us. They don’t help us out ever, just make our lives and jobs harder and then resent us.

  101. I’m trying so hard not to but I just keep losing respect for that whole generation of firefighters. All they left us with was an incredible fuel load and a broken workforce model. When we try to fix either they shout “if you don’t like it go do something else” or “no one fights fire aggressively anymore” from the back row of the bleachers.

    Go take up golf or sailing or something and leave us alone to fix the mess you left us with

  102. Honestly I’ve kind of forgotten there is a militia or rest of the agency really. Haven’t really seen anybody outside of fire, fuels, and prevention for going on 2 years now.

    Oh well I’ve seen the front desk people but that’s about the only humans in the office that I’ve seen. A lot of dusty gov rigs sitting in the parking lot.

  103. First of all, even though I’m a retired Forestry Technician, I am still working for another agency. I still take the pack test, and am DIVS along with other ground and aviation qualifications. I’m not in the bleachers, and get out on several assignments a year in various regions, and have seen the changes the last 40+ years, or so. It hit hard when 2 large fires in the last 20 years ran through the initial attack area that I spent much of my career responding to hoping (and mostly with success) to keep the fires small and out quickly. So I get the fact that aggressive IA has contributed greatly to the fact that we have larger and more destructive fires than ever. That doesn’t change the fact that we need to continue to be aggressive with IA and continue the use of managing fire when appropriate and increase fuels treatment. Obviously, this won’t prevent large fires in the future, but hopefully it will lower the frequency. When I say aggressive IA (and aggressive FF on large fires), that means getting back to the fundamentals of laying hose and constructing line more. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it’s less frequent, in my experience lately. EVERY large fire I’ve been to the last 10 years or so, I’ve seen crews reluctant to engage in putting out smokes within site of the engine or crew buggy, calling for water or retardant drops endlessly until there is no more smoke for the pilots see. I’ve seen crews burning out thousands of acres when a few hundred feet of hose would have put the fire out. On many of these fires, there are dozens of engines, crews, etc. sitting on the road doing nothing, expecting aircraft to do the work. I’ve gone on too long, but know that crews need to get back in the business of fundamental firefighting if we’re to keep more of these fires small, and stop blaming it on past fire management practices that are obviously a major contributor to the mess we have now.

  104. New to Wildfire Today’s comment section, yes. New to wildland fire, no. Since you’re here to school me, however, let me ask a few questions:

    1) It’s impossible to do enough fuels management to matter, you say? Fuels management isn’t a new idea, and some parts of the country do quite a bit. For example, CA is 2.5 times the size of FL, yet FL burns more than 40 times that of CA. And it’s working – they haven’t had to evacuate whole counties since the 1998 season. Please don’t tell me it’s harder in CA, that’s patently false. When’s the last time anywhere in the west had a 50 car pile-up with 5-10 dead people due to a RX fire? It happens in the south, where the environment is conducive to super fog, and they didn’t quit. Instead, they figured out how to make it work. Fuels management works elsewhere, so when’s the west going to step up to the plate?

    2) How can units implement fuels treatments when seasonals aren’t there to do the work? I thought part of the plan was to convert a bunch of seasonals to full time, so where’s the labor shortage? Also, I’m not sure where you work, but I see PFT’s writing NEPA, section’s 7 and 106, developing the prescription and burn plans, doing fuels monitoring, etc., not seasonals. Folks who swing a Pulaski or man a nozzle or manifest a crew may not like it, but there’s more to a fire program then digging line (trust me, those doing administrative duties don’t like it, either). Are you and other line personnel going to take over these administrative duties?

    Sarcasm aside, I doubt anyone is against increasing wildland firefighter pay. It’s been a problem for years, it’s about time to fix it. Your comment says something else, however. You’re saying fuels management can’t help, so why try? Here’s my thought on that: you remember the South Canyon fire? Post incident AARs indicated the firefighter’s “can do” attitude contributed to the fatalities (there was a lot of push-back against that conclusion). So, what you’re saying is the current crop of firefighters have decided a “cannot do” attitude is the right approach? Quitting before you even try will fix our fire problems?

  105. I think you are going to see OPM issue a series of positions to Wildland Fire, like we see in the 1800 inspection series. Let’s call it 9000… 9001 Wildland Firefighter, 9002 Fuels Management, 9003 Prevention… And so on. From that, there should be a second look at rate classifications and ladders, but that is where it gets tricky$$$ We all know the agencies (DOI/DOA) don’t want to pony up the cash from their budgets, and after the current two years of funding is gone, they won’t unless Congress passes a new bill forcing their hand.

    I get it, we are all underpaid and underappreciated, but fighting over the hypothetical scraps is not the solution. It’s also not wise to be done on a forum the command staff look at regularly. OPM and Foggy Bottom are the enemy here, we need to stand united against their years of mismanagement. We all can progress, but only as a united front.

  106. There are already IFPM requirements for various fire positions. If your PD has no IFPM requirement, no job series or extra pay for you!!!
    Everyone had a chance to make the jump into fire and, if you didn’t, you played the wrong hand.

  107. Separation and divisiveness is what I’ve mostly read here. Perhaps it is just. The baby was split and apparently few know it. There exists (has been for closing on 50 years) the US Fire Administration; the framework is already there. That is fact. It’s just dangling out there waiting, incubating in wait. I suspect, much like a non existent Dept. of Homeland Security in 2001, a major change will formulate as a result of some unsuspecting tragedy. As one Winston Churchill is known to have said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” The proverbial “swiss cheese” will line up where tragedy, politics, societal demands, etc. all lead to that change agent question, “why do we have all these different agencies with individual firefighting programs? We have to centralize.” That is the kneejerk political answer – efficiency via consolidation. Check history on this, folks. Attempts at handing over ATF responsibilities to the FBI? Nixon with the push to consolidate the ag agencies? LEOs stovepiped within the NR agencies? Unsuccessful and successful (depending on one’s side) examples abound. The public perspective and lack of knowledge will certainly play a factor in it. “Firefighters” are lifesavers, not natural resource savers. Red firetrucks put out fires. Fires are bad, in the woods and in my house (hat-tip to Smokey). I share in many of the frustrations voiced in previous comments. I have been militia and am natural resource focused, transitioned to primary fire, supervisor title, policy title, etc. I have multiple degrees which have certainly provided me the ladder to all OPM series classifications, my choosing. I currently am employed as a primary fire professional, with a federal agency, and it is a choice. It is costly in many ways, rewarding in others. That is my responsibility. Opportunity cost is personal in this endeavor. So sure, it has stung to be understaffed and managing a midslope Type 4 IA that we worked through the night, missing my anniversary, with a well-fed and rested, GS-11 Hydro- READ at Volume 11 in my left ear (while I’m trying to designate ground contacts for the buckets with my right) about how I put dozerline in the wrong place. I was mad. I am mad. But it behooves one to keep one’s wits in both that case and this subject now. Let’s not forget that in proselytizing we have to keep the big picture in mind, “…the Greatest Good”, for an ingroup hook. It’s not so much about what “we” think, it matters what the other 300+ million think. We work for The People. And bros, Sam Cooke is ringing in my ears, “…a change is gonna come.”

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