CNN covers legislation that would increase pay for federal wildland firefighters

Updated at 9:20 a.m. EDT July 31, 2022

The House of Representatives narrowly passed the legislation Friday. Now it goes to the Senate.


12:46 EDT, July 27, 2022

Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act
Rep. Joe Neguse interviewed on CNN July 27, 2022 about the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act.

In this video from CNN, Brianna Keilar interviews Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse about the Wildfire Response and Drought Resiliency Act, H.R. 5118, which would benefit wildland firefighters. It boosts their pay and benefits, helps the Forest Service fill gaps in fire management staff, and promotes bigger forest management projects to reduce hazardous fuels.

The bill is a conglomeration of half a dozen pieces of legislation,  including the Tim Hart Wildland Firefighter Pay Parity Act (H.R. 5631), all rolled into one. It would require that the minimum basic pay for any Federal wildland firefighter position be no less than the pay for a GS-6 Step 3, which is $42,946 a year ($21.29 an hour).  It would also stipulate that the salary be adjusted annually by not less than the change in the Consumer Price Index.

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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.

13 thoughts on “CNN covers legislation that would increase pay for federal wildland firefighters”

  1. Is there going to be an article in the near future that addresses the thousands of Federal wildland firefighters who have not received raises? I don’t know of anyone who did not receive the catch-up payments that covered Oct 1, 2021 to July 2, 2022. However there are thousands of people that have filed HR help tickets and have not received the bi-weekly supplements that were supposed to start July 3, 2022 (PP14). Nor have they received the catch-up OT payments. Contacting HR provides no information and the status of all of these individuals is in pending with no solution in sight. I would like to see someone with reach address this issue so it reaches the upper echelons of Federal fire as well as Congress.

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  2. My Fiancé is a hot shot fire fighter not working directly for the forest service but as a sub contractor because of the pay he could not afford to work directly for the government forest service. He is a marine (once a marine always a marine.) he fights fires and has for many years to serve & protect but he could not take such a huge pay loss working directly for the government! That is sad! He loves and serves his country because it’s in his DNA. We as a family understand his need to fight to save this land, people, businesses and their property. He was in the helicopter 30 min before it went down feet from his camp. The wreckage was feet from his camp and his crew. The immediate response to react to help the pilots was imbedded in him as a service man. “No man ever left behind.” He is a leader and acts as one but this was incredibly tough on him being with those men minutes before their bird went down, he had to go into action with his training as a hot shot for years and a marine for years too. He is always ready to go on a dime. Our wedding is postponed or I should say changed because duty calls and he serves. This is a big muscular man with a heart of Gold and he loves us (his family & country) as a spouse of a fighter and protector all I can do is hold things together here and encourage him while talking to him about the daily average life here (which he would never call average because he doesn’t take anything for granted. ) He knows anything and everything can be gone in a second, I’m sure this is what makes him love like it could be our last days, yet he is funny and fun. Everyone wants to be around him because he has that IT factor. When on the job he takes it seriously, he is running a short crew because a newbie put some men in danger and he went back after him into the burning fire while no phones or radios were working. That’s my husband the man who runs in not away from danger which a plan implemented to never put his men in immediate danger. He checks in with us when he can and never takes a day for granted and even though he makes much more then the federal employees he finds it saddening that they do the same work and they make less then pizza delivery people! I know this is who he is and I will always support him but my heart goes out to the men and women fighting with the same vigor making extremely less Money. He would not be able to afford to take care of us on the income that federal pays these people! Call your congressman or woman and help fight to get them pay and benefits increased, including the retired. My man doesn’t have benefits it’s paid along with his subcontracting which is sad. I have long term medical issues and he couldn’t afford to be an employee! What does that say about this government and red tape?! We love our country but what about the real life of real people?! He will be coming home for 2 days and we have decided to change our plans to marry in these couple of days. We can celebrate with friends & family later but being a legal man & wife is the most important to us in God’s eyes and ours. Money isn’t everything he will tell you he does it because serving is in his blood. I support him always in his decisions but what about the others who put their financial lives on hold to serve our land and country? Mine is a team leader/supervisor, like I said it’s been many many years he has been doing this without any way he could work for the country he loves so much and take care of his family. Our hearts go out to everyone serving and their families. It’s not easy but let’s work together to close the gap and show our gratitude for what they do for this country. Call, make yourself heard protect these people who are protecting our land and lives here on US soil. Be loud be heard no red tape just take care of those putting their lives in danger for us. And the worst is when they loose one of their family members on the mountain. They are a family like we are while he’s home and while he serves. He keeps informed there and here. I ask that we all come together starting tomorrow (Friday) at 6pm everyday until we bring them all home and fires are under control. Get the loggers involved these dead trees are just gas for these fires. We can turn it around. We never had these fires when I was a child growing up in North West Montana because the logging industry kept the mountains healthy and clean! We need change. Thank you for listening to my rant but with my entire soul I believe we can do better to keep fires down and good people in the field when we do have fires not newbies who can put lives in jeopardy with little to no experience. My man happens to have an Eagle eye and keeps tabs on the fire, his men and his family. Join me for prayer on my website Eagleeyeentllc.com page, “praying for the forest fire fighters page. Click on the tab “Prayers for forest fire fighters” Just post praying and we will be doing it together to bring change and prayer to all who choose to join us. No negative comments. Think of our loved ones and the ones lost and their families. There is no one asking you for money just showing them we love and see them along with appreciation for what they do for so little with all of themselves. We feel the for the families also. You are free to post and include prayer requests or responses for needs. I hope to see you at 6pm Denver time Zone. Just as they are family in the field we are family supporting them here at home.~Veronica

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    1. That’s all well and great UT you do know it’s not because of a lack of logging? It’s climate change… more intense forest management and treatment will help but the average size and ferocity of fires is due to climate change caused by humans… anyway.. sending prayers to all those on the front lines of the west’s climate crisis, better pay and benefits are the least they deserve.

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  3. Something not addressed is retirees.

    Many of us served honorably for decades under to old paltry pay and benefits. None of the current proposals aid retirees. One suggestion is change the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and the Public Safety Officers health insurance exclusion. The original values for the health insurance premium were fixed and never indexed for inflation.

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  4. This is structured in a way making it more likely to pass, as it wasn’t progressing on its own. Making it part of a larger bill covering Western Water rights and settlements makes it likely to gain more support from Western members of Congress on both sides of the isle, and especially the Senate.

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  5. I recommend that all read the bill, at least the part that pertains to federal wildland firefighters. It talks about the pay minimum and looking at a pay scale comparable to current federal structure firefighters. Yes it has the minimum of a GS 6 step 3, but nothing but inflation increases annually for anything above that wage. Also if you can find it look at federal structural firefighters pay scales, they’re really not to different than ours but due to their work schedules they have guaranteed OT on every check. This bill is certainly not a fix we’re looking for but still positive and I’ll happily accept the awareness of our profession. I might be wrong on some of the facts, feel free to correct. I won’t be offended and as always stay safe all!

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  6. This bill is 558 pages long. The last section of the bill is all about ‘Environmental Justice’.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for federal firefighters getting the wage they deserve for doing a difficult, dangerous job. But why do the politicos, the staffers and the lawyers have to lard up every law that they write? Can’t we just pass a simple bill that doesn’t take thirty minutes to review?

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    1. I hear that. And yes – why can it not be that way Kevin? Someone with some legislative insight would you chime in?

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    2. This is structured in a way making it more likely to pass, as it wasn’t progressing on its own. Making it part of a larger bill covering Western Water rights and settlements makes it likely to gain more support from Western members of Congress on both sides of the isle, and especially the Senate.

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  7. Thanks for the coverage, Bill, and thanks to Rep Neguse for his ongoing support of wildland firefighters. To be transparent, H.R. 5118 does not roll in Tim’s Act (H.R. 5631) in its entirety. H.R. 5118 does still leave some gaps, but we believe Rep Neguse is trying his best to address most of the reforms into a comprehensive bill that actually may make it to hearing. Another positive step forward.

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