WASHINGTON — After Representative Josh Harder’s (CA-10) months of bipartisan leadership on the federal firefighter shortage and wage crisis, President Joe Biden will order an increase federal firefighter pay after meeting with governors, cabinet members and business leaders today. This comes days after Rep. Harder led a bipartisan letter with Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3) urging the US Forest Service (USFS) to raise federal firefighter pay and President Joe Biden then pledged to take action on the issue.
“Firefighters are the heroes working around the clock right now keeping our families and our communities safe. When I found out that we had hotshot crews understaffed and firetrucks sitting in parking lots because we were paying our firefighters less than minimum wage, I knew we had to do better,” said Rep. Harder. “I’m proud to announce today that, after leading a bipartisan charge, we secured a pay increase for our federal firefighters. If, God forbid, you have to call in a fire that’s going to put your family in danger, there should always be a crew ready to jump in the truck and keep you safe. This is a big first step toward making sure every crew we’ve got is fully staffed, and I won’t stop pushing until that becomes a reality.”
Right now, 30% of federal hotshot crews, the most experienced and elite firefighters in the country, are understaffed. 15 hotshot crews in California alone don’t have enough members to act as a full firefighting unit. Despite last year being the worst wildfire year on record in California with more than 4 million acres burned, and this year expected to be “particularly brutal” and “worst-case scenario” according to wildfire experts, the US Forest Service is still struggling to hire and retain firefighters.
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