Report that Forest Service firefighting positions in California are just 65% to 70% filled

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Approximately 35 percent of entry- to mid-level positions on engine crews are filled in California

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La Grande Hotshots on a fire in New Mexico
La Grande Hotshots on a fire in New Mexico, May, 2022. Photo by Lagrande Hotshots.

As the Western states enter the traditional wildland fire season there is a report that only 65 to 70 percent of US Forest Service firefighting positions in California are filled. An article written by Brianna Sacks of BuzzFeed News stated that about 1,200 full-time positions are unfilled in the state. Approximately 35 percent of entry- to mid-level positions on engine crews are filled, as are about half of the similar positions on hotshot crews.

An excerpt from the article:

With the open positions, some units are left unable to operate their engines at all. A recent internal document tallying engine staffing across California also obtained by BuzzFeed News shows that about half of 260 Forest Service engines are either understaffed, so they can’t run seven days a week, or not staffed at all. That’s resulted in about 35 engines being “on blocks,” or inoperable.

Hotshot crews that can’t meet the rigid interagency standards for staffing and training will not be able to respond to a fire as a hotshot crew, and will be reduced to becoming a less qualified Type 2 crew, or forming “modules” of smaller numbers of personnel. Some of them may export their personnel to fill in on engines so that THOSE resources can respond.

Over the last two years, at least, the five federal land management agencies that hire large numbers of wildland firefighters have been experiencing increasing difficulties recruiting and retaining personnel. Reasons cited by current and former firefighters include very low pay, long hours, too much time away from home, too little time with families, limited opportunities for career growth, and the temporary and sometimes life-altering physical injuries experienced by these tactical athletes.

It takes five to seven years for a wildland firefighter to soak up enough experience and training to reach a lower to mid-level leadership position, and 15 years or more to begin to serve in the higher ranking positions day to day and while assigned to fires. With people at all levels resigning, the federal agencies are losing not only corporate knowledge but the hard-earned proficiency of safely and efficiently suppressing small and large wildfires while supervising dozens or hundreds of emergency workers performing one of the more dangerous jobs on the planet. A resigning senior firefighter with 15 years of experience “slides” in his brain can’t be replaced overnight with a person off the street.

Implementing the pay raises that were signed into law by President Biden eight months ago as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would be a huge step in the right direction. The agencies knew several months before the legislation was signed in November that it was most likely going to happen, so they have had nearly a year to plan for and implement this requirement. It is not optional. It’s the law. And while the USFS and DOI fiddle, the United States will burn, more engines will be “on blocks”, and some hotshot crews will disappear at least on paper.

Any visible progress has been slow. Today on the Forest Service website Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry Jaelith Hall-Rivera, who has become the public point person for implementing the pay raises, issued what she described as an update:

In the next few weeks, we will make announcements about the firefighter occupational series and the increased payment that is funded in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law…We understand your frustration and thank each and every one of you for your patience. Implementation has taken longer than any of us could have expected but getting it right is important.

There have been few signs of “patience.”

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Federal Employees is very concerned about what they have learned about proposed changes.

If the exodus is not reversed, the ability of the federal  agencies to fight fires and treat fuels is at stake — during a time when there is a goal of quadrupling the number of acres treated by prescribed fire and mechanized methods. Who is going to onboard new employees, plan the projects, meet with stakeholders, obtain environmental clearances, issue contracts, run the chain saws, and carry the drip torches? And who is going to fill the slots on the shrinking Incident Management Teams?

All while escalating wildfire activity demands MORE skilled and qualified fire personnel, not fewer.

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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.

51 thoughts on “Report that Forest Service firefighting positions in California are just 65% to 70% filled”

  1. Lol OLD DRHS…..we are working our way up while the wages aren’t…..

    Some of us are also leaving for Calf-Fire, other agencies and other fields because they’ll pay em more to do less (hey maybe you’re right, folks just don’t want to work hard lol)……or at least more comfortably….some aren’t even starting…had two new hires bail weeks before their start date….one for Cal-fire and another for a county…rookies, no experience, no certs, no degrees…just a couple of entry level folks who like true capitalists went where the money was.

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  2. You stop hiring GS 4s as temps and hire them perm at higher rate, because……………………… IT IS A TRADE.

    They start entry-level guys in city fire at 50k per year where I work. They only need EMT.

    You make an intitial investment on wages so you can keep them around to get them trained up in higher level skills and quals that require work experience to attain.

    It isn’t complicated. The job is more complicated though. So yeah, you have to at least keep up with other trade jobs. You have to start somewhere that actually keeps people around to pay back that intial investment in a rookie.

    And SR:

    I don’t want a degree. I know that is hard to understand. I have zero value in a degree. I don’t have time to get a degree and I don’t want the FS to support me in getting one. For the same reason a journeyman electrician doesn’t give a shit about getting a P.H.D. or an MBA or whatever. Because they are an electrician, they have a job that requires hands-on work to gain further certification in, not a job that requires previous specialized academic coursework. It isn’t even close to the same thing. I don’t have any reason to stab the career I have in the foot by missing work to get a bunch of esoteric academic stuff memorized. It is a waste of my time. If there was a legit trade program the FS put on that wasn’t just a scheduled barrage of S-classes I’ve already had and I was still starting out? Sure. But we have thay. Otherwise, if I am interested in academic things with no practical value to my work, I will read academic books.

    This job is not unskilled labor and it is not a white collar job. Really. There is a model for that. Watch some of Mike Rowe’s stuff. We just seem to live under some rock in a cave when it comes to understanding it.

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    1. Current Supervisor w/20 years FS, I totally agree with you about temps. I honestly think the NPS/FS needs to stop hiring temps and hire perms. (If fire season is year-round than why not hire someone year-round?) I’m also against volunteer work. If a job is worth doing NPS/FS must pay people to do it. NPS/FS must provide benefits. I understand the idea of temps and volunteers, but it’s a slippery slope. I also understand where you stand on a degree, but I’ve seen the NPS/FS post some positions with a degree to filter out people they don’t want to hirer.
      And I understand your stance on skilled vs. unskilled labor. To be honest, I’ve learned a lot about skilled vs. unskilled labor from the comments on this site. Yes, I said the wrong thing and had my a__ handed to me and I am a better person for that. TTYL

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      1. SR

        The LMAs need to stop hiring temps, 1039s, Intermittent, Term ?

        I was all if them including career conditional including Aerial Photo Interpreter for FIA to put myself thru Forestry school

        It’s a pipe dream if you think after your stint in the system, that THAT is going to disappear, I think currently, that will NEVER happen

        Being the realist that I am and in and out of Fed, State and private employment….LMAs and OPM is never going to get rid of those classifications in my lifetime

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  3. Thanks’ SR, I think
    If only we could find one good old fashioned time machine, then we could fix a few things…lol….kidding….kinda……Oh…I have not even been retired 3 yrs yet……just saying…..Peace…..

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    1. Old DRHS, let me know if you find that time machine. I have a couple of things I’d like to fix. You’ve only been gone for 3 years? Let’s see, when did things start falling apart? 3 years ago? Man, you leave and the whole agency just falls apart! 🙂

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  4. Understaffedsays:
    June 8, 2022 at 8:11 pm
    Yes, 1.9% sure, and that is great for UT and NE, NE has a medium income of around 33,000 and UT is around 75,000. $20.00 an hr in NE would be great pay and maybe $35.00 an hr in UT, just a wag, it would be great to see OPM adjust salaries to meet living standards for all fed employees, and in some cases they try to do just that, but it falls way short, the American culture is changing, not as many folks enjoy the out of doors like they used to, as a kid I was an out door addict, camping fishing boy scouts and much more……so when I found the USFS is was a good fit….wow, I get paid to work out doors…….one of my hobbies is I go hiking a lot….I do not see the enthusiasm with folks to be out, most of the interest in fire is w/ folks that have a love for the outdoors…..just saying….

    If folks are paying there way to get their EMT that is great, it will maybe give them a leg up, but it is not required, only EMR in some locations, and we cover the time and cost, CDL’s some locals require, other locals do not, but if you have it, you may have a leg up.
    When jobs are competitive you do what you need to do to be competitive…..work hard…..GS 4-6 are essentially entry level positions, when someone begins their career with the feds they are not at all skilled, skill comes some time later, people often confuse what skilled and unskilled is, skilled is when you have mastered a vocation, a GS 4 w/ 40/80 hours of training is not skilled….period……
    We are not on par with Cal Fire, we just are not, yes we are very good at what we do, I have always thought that we are great at extended attack and Cal Fire is the stuff when it come to IA, CDF just nocks the heck out it…..
    We have our wilderness considerations, NPS treats the park like its all wilderness and for very good reason.

    Lastly, we jump out of planes, maybe we should stop jumping out of planes, it’s a flawed delivery system, we sure jack a lot of people up, what a waste of capitol, both human and $$$$$$, we keep it around because the public thinks it’s cool…….And no one wants to be that person known for shutting the program down….rope sliding, now that’s the ticket……And shots are the, well they are just awesome, the best……
    You all need to rethink your recruitment strategies……start talking to them in Pre-K…..lol….half serious…..

    Yes, you all need better pay, better every thing, but the notion that an entry level position should be able to put a down payment on a house is pure nonsense.. you need to work your way up….that’s how things work in a capitalist society……Peace……..

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    1. Old DRHS, I love reading your comments. I think if we met in real life we’d probably be sitting on the front porch talking about the good old days in the FS. I know we don’t always agree, but I do respect you and your service. Peace.

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  5. Why are wildland firefighter jobs not a skilled craft in the WG pay schedule?
    Always remember OPM and personnel is not your friend.

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  6. Serious question – is there any merit to the rumor that the USFS actually wants to downsize their number of fire employees and just contract the majority out (similar to what they do with aviation)? They certainly have not been making working for the agency more attractive over the past 15-20 years. Death by 1,000 cuts….

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  7. Can we stop pitting firefighters against “ologist” or educated vs. experienced employees? We all need a living wage. We all need salaries that take into count the cost of living. And for those who are upset with those who had to stay home and work during COVID. Please understand that it was not easy to stay home and be on TEAMS all day. ALL DAY! There were no boundaries. Your boss could call you anytime. People were working 24/7. Many people are burnt out…firefighters and “ologist” a like. So, just try to be a little more understanding of the other side. Like a friend of mine said, “Walk a mile in another person’s shoes…Then at least you’ll be a mile away when they figure out you stole their shoes.”

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    1. Sounds about the same except having to pay $30+ a day to drive to an office for gas while getting paid $16 an hour and spending time in a vehicle exposed to risk in snow storms. But hey whatever. I’m sure sitting at home is horrible too.

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      1. During COVID, I was working in waste water, I tested for COVID in people’s poop, and this was before a vacine was available. So, yeah, it sucked!!! Having to drive out to a site and then go home, take a shower, and work. I worked 24/7 and I could be called out at anyday, anytime. And, yes, I totally agree about gas prices. I figure if you make $15/hr, you pretty much work a day to fill your tank.

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    2. Apples and Oranges. Sorry, Bird nerds aren’t slamming line all night. Your argument is not relevant. They want the same pay, tell them to be a fire fighter.

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      1. We are firefighters. When I worked for the NPS and FS, I was an “ologist” and a firefighter. And for the last 4 years I have been working with Congress to try to get firefighters a raise. My point is that the person who fills out the paperwork to get you on that fire should be making the same or more money to get you out on that fire. The person who trains you should be making same or more money money. It makes no sense that a person who has a BS, MS, and a PHD with student loans should or could survive on $15/hr.

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        1. SR,

          What was the highest qualification on your redcard that you were required to perform?

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          1. The highest? ARA, which fall under Techical Specialist. But, the FS cleaned out my folder when I was fired. They removed all my quals. I think I’m still in IQCS. Why? You want to hire me? Cause, that would really piss off HR. 😉

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            1. I am a GS7 DIVS trainee, however my day job requires something like CRWB and ICT5. I could end up being responsible for the safety of several hundred “firefighters” as a “firefighter”.

              Just curious what you meant when you mean when you say “we are firefighters”. An ICT1 is a “firefighter” and that qualification takes around 30 years iirc to attain. A PHD takes something like 8 years of school? Correct me there if I am wrong, because I don’t have a PHD.

              Just wondering what your definition of “firefighter” is when comparing it to an academic meritocracy.

              And no… I could use more C-fallers, EMTFs or ICT4s right now, but the only open spots we have are GS5 and 6 and we can’t substitute any sort of degree for those quals that I would be very comfortable with.

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              1. So, first of all if I was your boss I would make you a GS-11/12, because you are a supervisor and you have 20 years experience with the FS. I’d also support you if you wanted to get a BS, MS, and/or PhD.

                It took me 6 years to get my BS (changed my major and I paid as I went), 2 years to get my MS (while working at NPS) and yes it should take 4-8 years for the PhD. So, that’s 10-14 years to complete.

                And I totally understand that it takes 30 years to get to ICT1. But doesn’t the firefighter career ladder starts at FFT2?

                The way I see it is that there are many ways to make more money in the FS…education, experience or a combination of both. It just seems to me that there is a division between people who are labeled educated and those who are labeled experienced. It doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, some jobs require high school diploma, some require a BS, some require a MS, and some require a PhD. My point is that you’re not going to hire someone at $15/hr if they have student loan debts to pay off.

                The FS is going to have to rethink its career ladders if it wants to recruit and retain employees. Yes, giving the firefighters a raise is a start, but it’s going to make others upset. Randy said they should get their raise by the end of the month and I’m telling you people are going to be upset when they don’t get their raise.

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        2. Can you explain how the person who fills out paperwork to get someone on a fire should make more than the person doing actual work on the fire? It may just be me or worded confusingly. Although I agree all should be making more in the FS, I’m sorry I don’t feel a person getting me a resource order if that’s what you meant should make more than I do on the fire line. Just my 2 cents and if I misunderstood please correct me

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          1. So, one of the hardest working women I know works in dispatch moving people around, booking their flights, booking hotels (if necessary), getting vehicles, processing their hours, making sure they get paid for food, making sure they have all the things they need, updating IQCS, printing redcard, dealing with the budget, and I know firefighters are now responsible for some of that now, but in some regions they still have someone who coordinates all that and they are working the whole time that firefighters are on a fire. Plus, she sends out weather reports, she on the radio, and tracks the helicopters when they are in the air. To me tracking a helicopter after one has crashed (with fatalities) is a very stressful job. It’s not hard, it just takes focus. She has also made funeral arrangements. Anyway, my point is that she does multiple people’s jobs and gets paid less than $20,000. I just want people to understand that there a lot of people that support firefighters and they should be paid too. Because if there’s no one in budgeting, timekeeping, dispatch, planning, contracts, ASC…there’s no firefighters.

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            1. SR Yes that person should definitely more than $20k. And I can sympathize with the the stress of the helicopter tracking after its crashed….we’ve had to haul the bodies off the mountain. I think the agencies are trying to lump dispatch and those types into the pay raise and new series….rightfully so.

              And really most of us could care less if the ologists and office dwellers make more. I have a friend thats a wildlife biologist and I know starting out the FS and other agencies treats em like dirt and pays em terrible too with a lot of demands….but while we could care less if they make more….we’re really not concerned if they will be “upset” if we’re making more either we have more important peoples feelings to worry about like our kids and spouses. Plus they weren’t particularly concerned about us being upset about pay either and only really started paying attention when the slim potential that we could be getting paid better started to get traction. They should definitely push for NFFE to fight for them….and maybe start their own advocacy and lobbying groups like we have to get their voices heard.

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  8. Without full staffing, CalFire will be running the fires in Wilderness Areas, National Parks, and other sensitive lands.
    In CalFire, MIST tactics are a 4 blade wide dozer line instead of the normal 6 blade wide. Is that what we really want in Wilderness Areas?

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    1. It shout be noted that Cal-Fire is not a land management agency, it is a firefighting agency. It’s mission is crystal clear, put.the.f____.fire.out.

      Cal-Fire isn’t burdened by getting line officer approval to engage a fire. Yes, some places in R2 now require Hotshot crews to get Line approval and a risk analysis prior to engaging on an IA! My crew had to do this for a little 20 ac nothing fire on the Pike. It’s f____d up like a football bat!! Like line knows wtf they are even talking about.

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  9. DRHS, the notion that “people don’t want to work” is nonsense. I’m in a state with a 1.9% unemployment rate….I’ve tried recruiting eveywhere, I can’t beat pay for regular entry level hard labor jobs (contruction, road worker, municipal parks departments, factories) they’re all offering more! Can’t even sell the benefits as they’re keeping pace with ours now.

    GS-12 is the most populous pay grade in the federal government…maybe we shouldn’t get paid “more” but hell…what about at least close to same to some of of our “coworkers” who have been able to telework the last 2 years and are now throwing a fit over having to return to the office. Not sure the last time I’ve seen a GoFundMe for a biologist, archeologist, or GIS specialist injured on the the job…..can we at least get paid enough be able to put some away in savings in case that happens?

    Years of no raises for all feds as a whole and inflation have put us in a hole where the toughest parts of this job isn’t worth it anymore for a big portion of the force. I know you’re familiar with risk vs reward….its just not as balanced anymore.

    And you’re right we don’t do what Cal-Fire does….we jump out of planes or rappel into remote areas, we fight fire in fuel types from FL to WA…CA to AK, we pay for our own EMT courses and recertification, we mostly study and obtain our Class A and B CDLS on our own time and pay for it up front, we work consecutive 5 day weeks in remote locations (more days during severity). We are not the same as Calf-Fire but were no less skilled nor less essential. They do good things and are rightfully rewarded….we do good things…for a discount. Just because they’re all hazard doesn’t mean they’re somehow more valuable….they just fill a role while we fill another.

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  10. I get every thing you all are saying and for the most part have to agree, yes there is a culture problem to be sure, has been for sometime, when critical resources can not muster to full strength and meet agency standards that alone should be setting off sirens with someone, I hope with all sincerity that pay will fix every thing, those of us that have spent any time working for the DOI and USDA know that it will not…..yes it’s a start.

    Maybe, just maybe I have to consider that it is truly all messed up, and really the only way to really fix it is to establish a federal stand alone WLFF agency and maybe it would fall under home land security….maybe I could be the first director….I have a few ideas about things……LOL! No Thank You!
    It was not easy for me to raise a family working for the FS, sure money is always an issues, but being gone all the time hurt….really hurt…….kids need both parents around if at all possible…..I will have a few regrets for the rest of my life……that hotshot thing becomes part of your DNA and not being a part of that is like losing an arm…..oh I did finally get over it, you just do, you wake up one morning and call your FMO and say you are ready for something else…..after a few tries I was able to put it behind me….just in time to be there when our kids were hitting their teens…..that was fun…..LOL…….
    Hang in there, it will be OK…..it has to…….

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    1. Old DRHS, I’m so glad that you were able to have a family while you worked at the FS, but some people cannot afford to have a family, because they don’t make enough money.

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  11. Chief of the Forest Service – Line Officer
    Regional Foresters – Line Officer’s
    Forest Supervisors – Line Officer’s
    District Rangers – Line Officer’s

    This may sting a little – Firefighter pay at poverty levels, record low retention levels, Firefighter health issues, inadequate OWCP, Lack of Government housing, TOS discontinued, moral in the toilet –

    Line Officers

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  12. This is one reason why I sort of want to advocate that California Conservations Corps Type 1 Crews be allowed to train on a Type 3 Engine. There is already a path for training big vehicle drivers. I think training that focuses on the most basic and common type of Type 3 engine is cost effective and justifiable.

    In addition to serving CalFIRE, the CCC has additional mandates to be activated by FEMA and the USFS in emergencies of all types. Thus, it is consistent with the mission.

    The USFS has serious hiring problems in the west because of the lower pay in context of the higher cost of living in areas with higher rents. Notwithstanding whether those rents are realistic, the lack of affordable housing discourages otherwise willing recruits.

    The CCC provides Residential Centers for Corpmembers that solves this problem neatly. They are 24/7 available to respond to fires and can train and work without impoverished eviction hanging over them constantly.

    This is yet another hand-in-glove predicate for why this cross-training with the USFS and the CCC is a good idea. I might even suggest that Joint Residential Centers, with both CCC and USFS Crews are a good idea and providing them Type 3 Engines to train on and fight with, together, is a good idea.

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  13. Ben,

    I am a single, emotionally-disabled introvert who also has no interest in moving up to management, working every day off or year-round doing fire. Just saying. Cheers.

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  14. These articles never seem to mention the elephant in the room with regards to wages for ALL entry level employees: inflation!

    To put Biden’s raise for fire fighters in perspective, it is the same hourly rate he has called for as the federal minimum wage, so it is, by Biden’s own metric, essentially nothing more than a minimum wage. I am not aware of any automatic cost-of-living adjustment in his order.

    The Biden administration has underperformed is every area. The failure to implement the president’s well publicized (for political reasons) pay raise for fire fighters is only one of them, but that failure makes me question if he ever really intended to implement it.

    And the west is burning….

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  15. Old DHRS,

    Pay will go a long way to fix this, but it is more than just pay. We have a culture problem.

    The typical strategy for promotion is based on moving around from state to state to earn the next promotion/qual, and that takes a person without strong social connections or family ties. So now our “managers” are all single people without family that can’t understand why you don’t want to work every day off and stay on late every night.

    Meanwhile emotionally intelligent people with families or friends are either forced out or don’t move up in the organization.

    This isn’t all black and white, but it has made for a disgruntled management and poor work environment for many.

    But pay has to be fixed first. Outside of land management a GS7 is hardly trusted to stock the office supplies, yet in fire the average employee is a GS5.

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  16. The issue of hiring and retention is much bigger than pay, for reasons beyond my understanding folks do not want to work, I agree that it is shameful that there has been zero movement in implementing the new pay regs…..But when the better pay does not fix things then what?

    This notion that fed FF’s should be payed more that other GS disciplines is nonsense, it’s all one agency, everyone struggles to make ends meet, not just the FF’s, every segment of the FS I would venture to say has retention and recruitment issues…..Hey! As long as I get mine……Right…..

    Some, if not most feel that they should be on par with Cal Fire concerning pay, that’s ridiculous, we are not on par with cal fire and never will be, their mission is much different than ours, cal fire is a full service FD with much higher training standards, a true professional FD, maybe the very best in the world…..they get it. If we are willing to take on that level of service then maybe we to would deserve that kind of pay…..never going to happen…..

    Getting your own series does not negate the fact that you are part of the DOI and USDA, you will still report to the line officers, get ready for some real animosity. I know it will be worth it for the extra pay….

    Check out this link, Americans do not want to work, not for the USFS or anyone else, there are some great paying jobs that can not find folks to fill the positions…..
    https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/job-offers
    Yes of course you all need pay raises, and seasonal housing should be free for FF’s period, it’s crazy that we charge them to stay in mostly run down barracks…..sleeping in cars and other places is wrong…..

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    1. Yep
      Run down barracks and there’s timber lying on the ground everywhere and well, maybe, the Civilian Conservation Corps needs to come back but if no one wants to work for the LMAs, well, we have our many answers

      1) LMAs can’t pick up the logs on the ground
      2) NEPA, regulations, and whatnot stifle even the simplest of logging projects
      3) Industry governed by burdensome regulations
      4) LMA contract processes need improvement
      5) Can the LMAs even THINK about crew quarters?

      Win win here folks

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      1. I understand your frustration about NEPA. The problem is they fired a lot of NEPA people and that’s why everything essentially stopped. We were working on a way to streamline NEPA and a lot of us were fired. I think people don’t understand that there are a lot of support staff that work very hard to make sure everything runs smoothly, but without those support staff, things just don’t happen. It’s like the FS is a house of cards and they took out the middle and now everyone is wondering why the house is about to fall.

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    2. Old DRHS, I want to work, but ASC will not hire me. I know 634 people who would come back today if offered a job, but ASC refuses.

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    3. Old DRHS I feel like your misrepresenting your experience with the Feds. I don’t know how much time you spent on DelRosa, but I find it hard to believe that someone that has spent considerable time on a Fed crew cannot see why we should be payed the same basic rate as Cal-Fire, or atleast non-fire federal employees. Did you ever actually tie in with a cal-fire crew on fires? Certainly Cal-Fire is more of a All-risk agency, but they market and portray themselves as wildland firefighters, because it’s 90% of what they do, and the bulk of their income is based off of their time spent on wildland fires. Having spent most of my time on fire crews, I’ve seen a few things to be very true concerning Cal-Fire; They are great on initial attack because they have the luxury of flooding a fire with IA resources, literally putting the fire out with money. They are great with logistics, they have a deceptively amazing command presence.. Having said all that they are extremely inefficient, operationally speaking, at extended attack. Their large fires cost 10x the amount of large of Fed fires. We don’t want everything that they have, but saying they do more than us on wildland incidents is crazy, and negates what we do. I have recently switched over from the module to our local district office, and I can say we fire employees definitely should be getting compensated more than other employee’s. The majority of managers outside of fire are working virtually, people come in late, they leave early, they get more time off, and work life balance exists where it does not with the Feds. As far as young people not wanting to work, is a load of crap. I would argue that young firefighters today are more dedicated than our generation and your generation, because they are working this job for much less money relatively speaking.

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    4. Do you really think (for example) that GS-06 Smokejumper in their 9th year with the Forest Service doesn’t deserve equivalent pay to an entry level Cal Fire position? I’d argue that the mental/physical strength, inherent danger, and immense training that they have completed and maintain to be there is a little more than an entry level engine position, all hazard response aside.

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      1. Exactly. How are Hotshot Superintendents leaving for entry level jobs with Cal Fire and getting paid more?

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  17. FS is going to have to do something about ASC. Waiting 6 months to find out that they have not selected anyone for a position is insane!!! They say they are short staffed, but then they don’t hire anyone…How does that make any sense?

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  18. Excellent article Bill, excellent work GWFF and NFFE. Also, thanks to Ms. Sacks for her astute and attentive reporting.

    Lets DEMOB Randy and Jaelith!!!! If we cannot demob them they must know we are paying attention and are incensed!!! Please sign the petition, forward it to your elected officials, forward it to the media, get it out there. Over 4000 people have viewed it, it’s getting attention, lets keep the pressure on bump…bump…bump!!!

    https://chng.it/cJPWJwDK

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  19. And these reported numbers don’t take into account the vacancies amongst temporary employees… So it’s a lot more vacancies.

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  20. Great article Bill. For a good slap in the face, look at the crews assigned to the SW Area. Today I counted over 60 type 2 and type 2IA crews assigned the region. I think two of them were from the SW area-the rest were from other GACCs. And of those 60+ crews, over 90% were private/contract. Yet “leadership” doesn’t see a problem? So sad…..

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  21. Very well written article that outlines the current situation Bill. The scary thing is it’s getting worse by the day. I’ve heard more than one story of people resigning out of distrust and frustration from what they heard in the last (only) update concerning the Infrastructure Bill. I wish the president and congress would hold the departments and OPM accountable for this delay causing this crisis to the American people.

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    1. For those that are sticking this thing out, that’s commendable. However, resignations in large volumes is why this is being addressed. Watching the most talented individuals turn in their walking papers is why this is going to benefit the current work force. Sorry, but grass roots didn’t pull this off, the resignations did. What’s my point? I think the FS should treat this more like a Mom and Pop outfit and reach out to the guys that made their voice heard. Perhaps a call from Forest Supervisors calling their outstanding workforce that quit and offer their jobs back with the new incentives. After all, WE were the voice…… The only “legal” picket that you can do is quit. The rest of you just laid there and watched our top tier leadership put the FS in the rear view. Don’t forget that.

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